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The War in the Pacific 



of Congress Catalog Card Number: 61-60001 

First Printed 1962— CMH Pub 3-1 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C , 20402 

Stetson Conn, General Editor 

Advisory Committee 

(As of 5 April 1961) 

Fred Harvey Harrington 
University of Wisconsin 

William R. Emerson 
Yale University 

Oron J. Hale 
University of Virginia 

W, Stull Holt 
University of Washington 

Bell I, Wiley 
Emory University 


Maj. Gen. Louis W, Truman 
U.S. Continental Army Command 

Brig. Gen. Evan M. Houseman 
Industrial College of the Armed Fore* 

Brig. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr. 
U.S. Army War College 

Brig. Gen. William A. Cunr 
U.S. Army Command and General 

Col. Vincent J. Esposito 
United States Military Academy 

Vann Woodward 
Hopkins University 

Office of the Chief of Military History 

Brig. Gen. James A. Norell, Chief of Military History 

Chief Historian Stetson Conn 

Chief, Histories Division Col. Leonard G. Robinson 

Chief, Publication Division Lt. Col. James R. Hillard 

Editor in Chief Joseph R. Friedman 


. . . to Those Who Served 


For the United States, full involvement in World War II began and 
ended in the Pacific Ocean. Although the accepted grand strategy of the 
war was the defeat of Germany first, the sweep of Japanese victory in the 
weeks and months after Pearl Harbor impelled the United States to move 
as rapidly as it could to stem the enemy tide of conquest in the Pacific. 
Shocked as they were by the initial attack, the American people were also 
united in their determination to defeat Japan, and the Pacific war became 
peculiarly their own affair. In this great theater it was the United States 
that ran the war, and had the determining voice in answering questions of 
strategy and command as they arose. The natural environment made the 
prosecution of war in the Pacific of necessity an interservice effort, and any 
real account of it must, as this work does, take into full account the views 
and actions of the Navy as well as those of the Army and its Air Forces. 

These are the factors — a predominantly American theater of war cover- 
ing nearly one-third the globe, and a joint conduct of war by land, sea, and 
air on the largest scale in American history — that make this volume on the 
Pacific war of particular significance today. It is the capstone of the eleven 
volumes published or being published in the Army's World War II series 
that deal with military operations in the Pacific area, and it is one that 
should command wide attention from the thoughtful public as well as the 
military reader in these days of global tension. 

Washington, D. C. JAMES A. NORELL 

5 April 1961 Brigadier General, U.S.A. 

Chief of Military History 


The Author 

Louis Morton, now Professor of History at Dartmouth College, was a 
member of the Office of the Chief of Military History from 1946 to 1959. 
During that time, he served as chief of the Pacific Section, responsible for 
the preparation of the 11 -volume subseries on The War in the Pacific, 
deputy to the Chief Historian, and historical adviser for the post-World 
War II program. The present volume is the second he has written for the 
Fall of the Philippines, was published in 1953. In addition, he has contrib- 
uted substantially to other publications of this office, including Command 
Decisions, and has published numerous articles in professional military 
and historical journals. 

A graduate of New York University, Mr. Morton received his doctorate 
from Duke University in 1938 in the field of American colonial history. 
After a brief teaching career, he joined the Williamsburg Restoration, 
which published his study, Robert Carter of Nomini Hall, and then in 
May 1942 volunteered for military service. Most of his Army career was 
spent in the Pacific on historical assignments, and it was during this period 
that his interest in military history began. He has served as consultant and 
lecturer at a number of military and civilian institutions and teaches 
military history at Dartmouth. 



Strategy is a many-sided word, connoting different things to different 
people. The author of any work on strategy, therefore, owes it to his 
reader to define at the outset his own conception of this ambiguous term. 
For it is this conception that underlies the shape of his work and largely 
determines what belongs to it and what does not, what emphasis will be 
accorded certain subjects, and how they will be treated. 

In the present volume, the author has viewed strategy broadly, including 
within it not only the art of military command — the original meaning of 
the term — but all those activities associated with the preparation for and 
the conduct of war in the Pacific. Strictly speaking, this book is not about 
military operations at all (though it includes operational strategy) , for 
these belong in the realm of tactics and are covered fully in the other 
volumes of the Pacific subseries. It is focused rather on the exceedingly 
complicated and difficult, if less dangerous, tasks that are necessary to bring 
men with all that they need to the chosen field of battle at a given moment 
of time. These may be less glamorous endeavors than those usually asso- 
ciated with war, but they are as vital and were particularly important and 
complex in the Pacific, often determining the outcome of battle. 

Viewed thus, the arena of Pacific strategy is the council chamber rather 
than the coral atoll; its weapons are not bombs and guns but the mountains 
of memoranda, messages, studies, and plans that poured forth from the 
deliberative bodies entrusted with the conduct of the war; its sound is not 
the clash of arms but the cool voice of reason or the heated words of debate 
thousands of miles from the scene of conflict. The setting for this volume, 
therefore, is the war room; its substance, the plans for war and the statistics 
of shipping and manpower. It deals with policy and grand strategy on the 
highest level — war aims, the choice of allies and theaters of operations, the 
distribution of forces and supplies, and the organization created to use them. 
On only a slightly lower level, it deals with more strictly military matters — 
with the choice of strategies, with planning and the selection of objectives, 
with the timing of operations, the movement of forces and, finally, their 
employment in battle. 

Strategy in its larger sense is more than the handmaiden of war, it is an 
inherent element of statecraft, akin to policy, and encompasses preparations 
for war as well as the war itself. Thus, this volume treats the prewar period 
in some detail, not in any sense as introductory to the main theme but as 


an integral and important part of the story of Pacific strategy. The great 
lessons of war, it has been observed, are to be found in the events preceding 
the outbreak, of hostilities. It is then that the great decisions are made and 
the nature of the war largely determined. Certainly this was the case in 
World War II, and the years before Pearl Harbor are rich in lessons for 
our own day. 

The original design for the Pacific subseries of the UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II envisaged a single volume on strategy cover- 
ing the entire period of the war as well as the prewar period. But it subse- 
quently became evident that it would be impossible to tell so large a story 
in any meaningful way in so brief a span. An additional volume was there- 
fore allocated to Pacific strategy. The terminal date for the present volume, 
December 1943, was selected partly for reasons of length but also because 
that date provided a logical dividing point in the story of Pacific strategy 
for a variety of reasons. Other volumes will deal with the final year and a 
half of the war, from December 1943 to August 1945. 

Even so, it has been necessary to condense much of the story of Pacific 
strategy and to omit some things that perhaps should have been included. 
In each instance of this sort, the author has based his decision on the signifi- 
cance of the subject and its relevance to the larger theme of the book. Thus, 
the author emphasized the organization for planning on the higher levels, 
at the expense of the organization of theater headquarters because it seemed 
to him that the area of decision deserved the greater attention. Similarly, 
he avoided a detailed account of theater organization for its own sake, since 
a pro forma account would shed little light on the major problems of the 
Pacific war. But when theater organization emerges as a major factor, as it 
does in the account of joint command or Army-Navy relationships, it 
receives considerable attention. 

The temptation to deal in this book with the larger problems of global 
strategy became at times almost irresistible. Constantly the author had to 
remind himself that his subject was the Pacific war and that global strategy 
was treated in full elsewhere in this series. He attempted, therefore, to 
include only so much of the larger picture as was necessary to put the 
Pacific into its proper perspective. The same is true of logistics and of 
operations. UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II is a large 
series with volumes on a great many subjects, many of them closely related 
to one another and to this one. Thus, the author had constantly to skirt a 
narrow path between those volumes dealing with the higher echelons of 
the War Department and those dealing with operations in the theater. 
When he trespassed, he did so because it seemed necessary for an under- 
standing of the story of Pacific strategy; to do otherwise would have been a 
disservice to the reader. 

Every author who sets out to write a book incurs numerous obligations. 
But none owes more than one whose book is part of a larger series and who 
works within the framework of an organization in which many people con- 


tribute to the volume in the course of their daily work. This is such a book, 
and the debts of the author to his colleagues and associates are heavy indeed, 
even though he alone is responsible for interpretations made and conclu- 
sions drawn in this volume as well as for any errors of omission or commis- 
sion. The list of those whose assistance eased the author's task extends from 
the Chiefs of Military History and the Chief Historians, past and present, 
to the typists who deciphered penciled scribblings and the file clerks who 
saved the author many valuable hours. Included in this long list are editors 
and cartographers, librarians and archivists, participants in the events 
described, and observers, supervisors, and subordinates. But the heaviest 
debts are to my fellow historians in this adventure in co-operative history, 
and especially to the authors of the other volumes in the Pacific subseries. 
The references to their work, which appear so often on the pages that follow, 
are only a partial acknowledgment of their contribution. Full acknowledg- 
ment would have to include also the less tangible but equally important 
benefits derived from close association and frequent conversation. For this 
aid, the author owes much to his colleagues, civilian and military, but he 
owes more perhaps to their encouragement and to the support and friend- 
ship they gave so freely during the years it took to write this book. 

Hanover, New Hampshire LOUIS MORTON 

20 September 1960 






The Ocean and Its Islands 5 

The Great Powers in the Pacific 13 

The Road to War 



Early Plans for Defense 21 

The ORANGE Plan 24 


Strategic Dilemma 33 


Japanese Expansion 46 

Economic and Military Preparations 54 

Japan Moves South 58 


Strategic Adjustment, 1938-1940 68 

The Critical Summer of 1940 74 

Shift to the Atlantic, September 1940-January 1941 79 



The July Crisis 92 

America Faces the Far East 96 

The Plan for War 103 


To jo Takes Over 113 

The Progress of Negotiations 117 

The Die Is Cast 121 

Conclusion 124 



The Defensive: Pearl Harbor to Midway 

Chapter Page 


The Japanese Offensive: First Phase 131 

Meeting the Emergency 139 


Allied Strategy 154 

The ABDACOM Interlude 166 


The Siege of Bataan 181 

Strategy and Logistics 186 

Command 193 


The Northeast Area 198 

The Line of Communications 204 

The" Japanese Threat 212 

Pacific Build-up 217 


The Washington Command Post 225 

The Japanese High Command 234 


The Problem of Responsibility 240 

The Southwest Pacific and Pacific Ocean Areas 244 

The South Pacific Area 256 


The Fall of the Philippines 264 

The Tokyo Raid 269 

Coral Sea and Midway 274 

Seizing The Initiative 


Early Plans 290 

Strategy and Command 294 

Compromise: The 2 July Directive 301 


Chapter Page 


Logistics and Strategy 305 

The Pacific Versus Europe 308 

MacArthur Prepares 311 

Final Preparations 318 


Emergency Measures 325 

The Debate Over Priorities 333 

The October Crisis 340 

The Shipping Crisis 345 

The Crisis Ends 349 


Army-Navy Relations in the South Pacific 352 

The Southwest and Central Pacific 357 

Joint Staffs 359 

A Unified Command for the Pacific 361 


The Japanese Regroup 364 

Tasks Two and Three: The Indivisibility of Strategy and 

Command 370 


Strategic Concepts 376 

The Casablanca Conference 380 

Strategy for 1943 385 


Theater Plans . 387 

The Pacific Military Conference 390 



The I-GO Operation 411 

Emerging Patterns 


Strategic Background 419 

The Aleutians 421 


Chapter Page 


The Central Pacific War 434 

The Philippines in Central Pacific Strategy 437 

The Japanese 444 

The Central Pacific in Long-Range Strategy 447 


The TRIDENT Conference 454 

The Marshalls Plan 460 

Alternate Proposals 463 

Gilberts-Nauru Plan 468 


The Problem 473 

Theater Organization 481 

The Joint Staff 490 


CARTWHEEL Begins 502 

Strategic Forecast, August 1943 512 


Ships and Plans 521 

Strategic Role of the North Pacific 527 



The New Operational Policy 543 

The Decision Is Made 547 

The New Strategy in Action 550 



New Georgia 559 

Salamaua to Sio 563 

The Gilbert Islands 567 

CARTWHEEL Completed 575 


The Pattern of Pacific Warfare 585 

The Prospects for Japan 590 

Long-Range Plans for the Defeat of Japan 592 

Operations for 1944 601 


Appendix Page 


3 JANUARY 1942 (ABC-4/5) 607 







57/1) 614 


PACIFIC OCEAN AREA, 30 MARCH 1942 (CCS 57/1) 617 







PLEMENT, 4 JANUARY 1943 624 



22 JANUARY 1943 (CCS 168) 627 




MARCH 1943 636 

AREAS DURING 1943, 28 MARCH 1943 (JCS 238/5/D) 641 


Appendix Pa g e 

263/2/D) 642 

287/1 AND CCS 220) 644 

PROVED 25 MAY 1943 (CCS 242/6) 648 

AUGUST 1943 (CCS 319/5) 650 




SWPA, 20 OCTOBER 1945 661 

PRINCIPLE, 2 DECEMBER 1943 (CCS 417) 668 



Appendix Page 


PACIFIC AREA, 26 APRIL 1943 675 


20 OCTOBER 1943 686 




INDEX 721 


No. Pag* 

1. Japanese Military Budget, 1931-1940 55 

2. Japanese Army Ground and Air Forces and Navy Air Forces, 1937-1941 ... 57 

3. Major Army Combat Forces for the Pacific, Present and Projected, 

April-May 1942 213 

4. Army Strength in the Pacific, April 1942 224 

5. Timetable of Pacific Operations, August 1943 516 

6. Strength, U.S. Forces in the Pacific, 31 December 1943 538 

7. Major U.S. Combat Forces in the Pacific, 31 December 1943 539 

8. Major U.S. Combat and Air Forces in Pacific and European Areas, 

31 December 1943 540 

9. Japanese Shipping Losses, 7 December 1941—20 September 1943 546 

10. Japanese Army Reinforcements, Central Pacific, September 1943-January 

1944 554 

11. Army (and AAF) Battle Casualties, Pacific Areas, December 1941— 

December 1943 585 

12. Battle Casualties, Navy and Marine Corps, December 194 1-December 1943 . . . 586 

13. Specific Operations for the Defeat of Japan, 1944 604 


1. Disposition of Major Japanese Forces for War, December 1941 110 

2. Organization of ABDACOM, January-February 1942 169 

3. The Washington High Command and the Pacific Theaters, December 1942 . . . 232 

4. The Japanese High Command 238 


No. Page 

5. Command Organization in the Pacific, July 1942 254 

6. Organization of Japanese Forces, Solomons-New Guinea Area, January 

1943 366 

7. Command Organization, South Pacific Forces, August 1943 404 

8. Organization for Administration and Supply, U.S. Army Forces, South 

Pacific Area, July 1943 405 

9. Organization of South Pacific Air Forces, Solomon Islands, July 1943 406 

10. Command Organization, Southwest Pacific Area, July 1943 . 409 

11. Organization for Administration and Supply, U.S. Army Forces, South- 

west Pacific Area, July 1943 410 

12. Organization of Japanese Forces, Southeast Area, July 1943 414 

13. Command Organization, Pacific Ocean Areas, October 1943 483 

14. Organization for Administration and Supply, U.S. Army Forces, Central 

Pacific Area, December 1943 488 

15. Headquarters Organization, CINCPOA-CINCPAC FLEET, October 1943 . 497 

16. Organization of Japanese Forces in Pacific and Southeast Asia, November 

1943 556 


1. The Japanese Plan for War, December 1941 106 

2. The ABDACOM Area, January-February 1942 162 

3. The South Pacific Line of Communications to Australia, 1942 206 

4. The Japanese Advance Into the Solomons-New Guinea Area, January- 

July 1942 291 

5. The Battle Area, August 1942 314 

6. The North Pacific 422 

7. The Central Pacific 435 

8. New Georgia Operations, 21 June-5 July 1943 506 

9. Japan's National Defense Zone, Southeast Area 548 

10. South Pacific Operations, June— November 1943 561 

11. Southwest Pacific Operations, September 1943— February 1944 567 

12. Makin Atoll 568 

13. Tarawa Atoll 570 

14. Progress and Prospects, 31 December 1943 588 

Maps I- III are in inverse order inside back cover 

I. The Japanese Offensive, December 1941-May 1942 
II. The Pacific and Adjacent Theaters, April 1942 
III. The Cartwheel Operations 




Fujiyama 8 

On Board the Powhatan 9 

View From Manila Bay 23 

Washington Conference, 1921-22 26 

General Douglas MacArthur 38 

Brig. Gen. Stanley D. Embick 40 

Japanese Cabinet, March 1936 49 

Japanese Troops Marching Through the Peiping Gate 52 

Konoye Cabinet of June 1937 53 

General George C. Marshall 73 

Admiral Harold R. Stark 73 

Brig. Gen. George V. Strong 76 

General Teiichi Suzuki 95 

Admiral Osami Nagano 96 

Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short 102 

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel 103 

Japanese Mock-up of Ford Island and Battleship Row 104 

General Hideki Tojo 116 

Japanese Signs Proclaiming Economy Drive 117 

Joint Board Meeting 120 

Kurusu and Nomura 125 

"Banzai!" 134 

Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941 135 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt 142 

Admiral Ernest J. King 145 

Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons 145 

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz 145 

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson 149 

Lt. Gen. H. ter Poorten 167 

ABDA Command 170 

Vice Adm. Conrad E. L. Helfrich and Admiral Thomas C. Hart 173 

Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma 183 

General MacArthur With Brig. Gen. Patrick J. Hurley 196 

Brig. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, Jr 210 

Forward Echelon of the 41st Division 211 

Joint Chiefs of Staff 228 

General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz 249 

Vice Adm. Herbert F. Leary 253 

Rear Adm. Robert L. Ghormley 258 

Rear Adm. John R. McCain 258 

Rear Adm. Aubrey W. Fitch 259 

Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner 259 



Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright 268 

Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle and Capt. Marc A. Mitscher 271 

Explosion on the Lexington 277 

Battle of Midway 285 

Training on Australian Beaches 293 

Brig. Gen. Thomas T. Handy 298 

Rear Adm. Charles M. Cooke, Jr. 299 

General MacArthur and Maj. Gen. George C. Kenney 312 

Maj. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger and General Sir Thomas Blarney 312 

A— 20 Skip-Bombing an Enemy Freighter 320 

B-17 Over the Solomons 321 

New P-38's at Noumea 332 

Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold 338 

Admiral Nimitz at Noumea 339 

Ships at Noumea 346 

Damaged Supplies 355 

Henderson Field 356 

Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., and Maj. Gen. Millard F. Harmon 357 

Lt. Gen. Hatazo Adachi 368 

Lt. Gen. Haruyoshi Hyakutake 368 

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto 369 

Lt. Gen. Hitoshi Imamura 369 

Plenary Session at Casablanca 384 

Conference at Alamo Headquarters 407 

Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt 428 

Rear Adm. Thomas C. Kincaid 429 

Planning the Kiska Operation 432 

Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance 484 

Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, Jr 484 

Maj. Gen. Holland M. Smith 485 

Rear Adm. John H. Hoover 485 

Maj. Gen. Willis H. Hale 489 

Fijian Commandos 504 

Rendova Commanders 508 

Rendova Landing Forces 508 

Munda Airfield 512 

On New Georgia 513 

American Strategic Planners at Quadrant 518 

The Combined Chiefs of Staff at Quebec 519 

Vice Adm. Jinichi Kusaka 551 

Australian Troops Go Ashore Near Lae 564 

Airborne Operations at Nadzab 565 

LVT's at Tarawa 572 

Landing Craft Moving in on Butaritari Island 574 



Admiral Halsey with Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler and Maj. Gen. Roy S. 

Geiger 578 

Maj. Gen. Oscar W. Griswold and General Harmon 579 

Supply Road on Bougainville 580 

Cairo Conference 594 

Tehran Conference 595 

General Marshall at Southwest Pacific Headquarters 603 

Illustrations are from the following sources: 

National Archives: pages 49, 52, 53, 117, 14a, 196, 428. 

Captured Japanese films: pages 95, 96, 116, 183, a68, 369, 551. 

Life photograph taken by McAvoy: page 125. © Thomas McAvoy/Timepix (2002) 

The Netherlands Department of DeEense: pages 167, 170, 173. 

Australian War Memorial: page 368. 

All other photographs are from Department of Defense files. 




The theater of war is the province of strategy. 

Sir Edward Bruce Hamley 

The Mediterranean is the ocean of the past, the Atlantic, the ocean of the 
present, and the Pacific, the ocean of the future. 

John Hay 


The Pacific World 

Much that has been written about the 
Pacific area is a mixture of romanticism 
and exaggeration. But for those who 
seek an understanding of the Pacific as a 
theater of war, a knowledge of the ocean, 
its islands, its peoples, and its history is a 
prerequisite. It was these factors which 
in large measure determined where and 
how the war would be fought, shaped 
strategy, complicated logistics, and con- 
ditioned tactics. Before his return jour- 
ney came to an end under the Golden 
Gate Bridge, the World War II soldier 
who had fought his way across the Pacific 
had seen many strange sights and heard 
stranger tales. Nowhere did the grim 
reality of life in the Pacific correspond 
with the idyllic existence pictured in 
romantic literature. 

The Pacific Ocean is the world of Mel- 
ville and Maugham, of white whales and 
long-extinct animals and birds, of Lilli- 
put and Brobdingnag, and of the long- 
sought continent of the South Seas, Terra 
Australis Incognita. In its vast reaches 
lie countless islands ranging in size from 
the tiniest coral outcroppings, so low they 
barely break the rays of the setting sun, 
to continental Australia, three million 
square miles in extent. It has every kind 
of clime from sweltering heat to polar 
cold, and a startling variety of physical 
settings — steaming and noisome jungles, 
foggy, frozen, wind-swept islands, deserts, 
palm-covered coral atolls, grassland pla- 

teaus, parched treeless plains, and live 
volcanoes throwing up new islands and 
destroying old ones. 

Racially and culturally the Pacific 
world is a bewildering patchwork woven 
out of millenia of isolation and migra- 
tion, when small bands of black and 
brown men, the "Vikings of the Sunrise," 
pushed their way eastward in fragile 
canoes across the whole wide Pacific to 
populate its far-flung islands. The white 
explorers, when they ventured into these 
waters centuries later, found there an 
astonishing variety of peoples and cul- 
tures. In the mountainous interior of 
New Guinea, in the Indies, and in the 
Philippines, were the dark, woolly haired, 
pygmy Negritos, who, like the aborigine 
of Australia, existed in almost neolithic 
state, traveling naked in migrant bands 
and living on roots, grubs, reptiles, and 
game; in Papua the fuzzy-haired natives 
lived much like' the Negrito but had a 
primitive political and social organiza- 
tion in which prestige often depended 
upon the number of heads a man could 
collect; in the Solomons, the Fijis, and 
New Guinea, were the dark-skinned 
Melanesians, fierce fighters who carved 
intricate and grotesque patterns in wood, 
ate human flesh, and were as addicted to 
exclusive men's clubs and secret societies 
as the American of today; and in the lush, 
beautiful islands of the eastern Pacific, 
where the Europeans came first, dwelt 



the tall, gold-skinned Polynesian who, 
with more time for leisure in a land 
where food abounded, created complex 
mythological and religious rites, and de- 
veloped intricate social patterns. 

In the wake of the European explorers 
came the treasure seeker and trader, the 
scientist and map maker, the whaler and 
planter, the beachcomber and missionary. 
They were of all nationalities — Portu- 
guese, Spanish, Dutch, English, French, 
American, German, and Japanese — and 
they brought with them the doubtful 
blessings of a superior technology and 
civilization. Some exploited the native 
mercilessly, cheated and robbed him, 
others altered and destroyed his institu- 
tions, pushed him off the land, took away 
his few possessions and enslaved him. In 
the interests of progress, they converted 
islands into pastures, plantations, and 
mines; ceremonial halls into school- 
houses; and, with firearms, gin, and 
white man's diseases, depopulated large 
areas and annihilated whole tribes. 

When the less savory aspects of this 
era of "discovery" and exploitation could 
no longer be ignored, the great powers 
stepped in to stem lawlessness and con- 
trol trade. National prestige and power 
and the acquisition of strategic bases be- 
came the touchstones of policy; colonial 
administrators and naval officers the sym- 
bol of the new authority. Under official 
sponsorship the annexation of the islands, 
begun almost four hundred years earlier 
with Magellan's great voyage, went for- 
ward so rapidly that by the end of the 
nineteenth century all of the Pacific 
world, "every exposed volcanic crust and 
coral outcrop," 1 had been divided among 

1 Douglas L. Oliver, The Pacific Islands (Cam- 
bridge: Harvard University Press, 195a), p. 253. 

the powers. Henceforth, they could gain 
additional land there only at each other's 
expense. The islands of the Pacific had 
become pawns in the great game of inter- 
national rivalry and their fate rested on 
the moves dictated in the great capitals 
of the world. 

Even in the twentieth century the 
Pacific world has lived up to its reputa- 
tion for vastness and variety. The first 
World War and the subsequent reshuf- 
fling of control under the mandate system 
passed almost unnoticed by the islanders, 
who, like the natives of Rabaul, were only 
bewildered by pronouncement "No more 
'um Kaiser; God save 'urn King." But 
the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 
opened a war which was fought all the 
way from Hawaii and Australia to Japan 
and the coast of Asia. It was a war waged 
in all the elements. Large fleets ranged 
the vast ocean searching for the enemy, 
aircraft flew hundreds and thousands of 
miles over water to drop their bombs, 
submarines hunted secretly in the lanes 
of empire for their prey, and troops 
fought desperately for islands with 
strange and unpronounceable names. 
Solomon Islanders helped carve airstrips 
out of jungle, Fijian and Tongan scouts 
performed heroic feats behind the Jap- 
anese lines on Bougainville, Papuans 
carried supplies over the Owen Stanley 
Range to the troops in New Guinea, and 
Filipino guerrillas met MacArthur on 
the beaches at Leyte. Volcanic wastes 
and coral atolls rising in a lonely ocean 
were scrutinized from the air and sea and 
charted with all the meticulous care of 
modern science. Islands where few white 
men had ever been were the subject of 
serious and lengthy debate at the council 
tables in Washington and London before 
they became major battlegrounds of the 



war and then, overnight, great bases on 
the road to Japan. 

The war came to an end with the loud- 
est man-made explosion the world had 
yet heard. It was in the Pacific — last to 
be settled by primitive man, last to be 
divided among the colonial powers, and 
last to witness the terrible ferocity and 
devastation of modern war — that the 
atom age opened. The Pacific world, the 
home of the head hunter, had, by the 
middle of the twentieth century, become 
the proving ground of the H-bomb. 

The Ocean and Its Islands 

The Pacific is the biggest and the deep- 
est body of water on the earth. With a 
total area of 68,634,000 square miles, it 
is twice as large as the Atlantic and covers 
more than one-third of the surface of the 
entire globe. Measured along the equator 
it is about 10,000 miles wide, but its 
greatest width, 12,500 miles, is between 
Panama and Malaya where it extends 
half the distance around the earth. From 
Bering Strait on the north, where the 
ocean is only 56 miles wide and 300 feet 
deep, to the Antarctic Circle, the Pacific 
measures 9,300 miles. 2 So vast is its extent 
that if a giant bulldozer scraped off all 
the land on the surface of the earth to 
sea level and dumped it into the ocean, 
the Pacific would still have an average 
depth of two miles. 

The best way to get a true picture of 
the immensity of the Pacific world is to 

2 Unless otherwise indicated, this section is based 
upon O. W. Freeman, ed., Geography of the Pacific 
(New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1951), pp. 1-34; Fair- 
field Osborn, ed., The Pacific World (New York: 
W. W. Norton k Co., 1944), pp. 21-4?; Don Leet, 
Causes of Catastrophe (New York and London: 
McGraw-Hill, 1948), pp. 150—53, 189; R. W. Robson, 
The Pacific Islands Handbook (New York; The Mac- 
miUan Company, 1946). 

imagine yourself on Mars, observing the 
planet Earth through a telescope more 
powerful than any yet built. From this 
vantage point, the most prominent fea- 
ture on the globe before you, dwarfing 
the mountains and the continents, is the 
Pacific Ocean. But to the earth-bound, 
who see their planet most often in Mer- 
cator projection on a flat map, the great 
ocean shrinks in size and takes on distor- 
tions which seriously limit an apprecia- 
tion of its actual dimensions. By showing 
meridians of longitude as parallel — actu- 
ally they converge at the poles — and 
by increasing the spread between the 
parallels of latitude in proportion to their 
distance from the equator, the Mercator 
projection produces a double distortion 
which has the effect of blowing up the 
size of the areas to the north and south. 
Thus, Greenland appears larger than the 
continental United States on a map 
drawn to Mercator projection, whereas 
it is actually less than one-third the size. 
Conversely, New Guinea, which lies just 
below the equator, appears on a flat map 
to be only as large as New Zealand, 2,000 
miles to the south, but its total area is 
actually three times greater and its 1,300- 
mile length would reach almost halfway 
across the United States. 

Though practically all the islands of 
the Pacific were formed by violent up- 
heavals of the earth's crust and volcanic 
activity and consist essentially of hard- 
ened lava, their origin is often masked 
by a coating of coral rock, the remains 
of once-living plants and animals. The 
most familiar of these is the coral polyp, 
a tiny marine animal that builds its own 
shell by extracting lime from sea water, 
thus providing the aviation engineers of 
World War II with the base for many 
of their airfields. 



The coral polyp creates not only islands 
but atolls and reefs as well. The atoll, 
so characteristic of the eastern Pacific, 
consists of a chain of coral-encrusted 
islets, usually roughly circular or horse- 
shoe-shaped in formation and enclosing a 
shallow lagoon; the reefs — in this case, 
fringing reefs — are platforms built upon 
the shoulders of volcanic peaks and ex- 
tending between the shore and deep 
water. Reefs which are separated from 
the shore by a stretch of open water are 
called barrier reefs, and the largest of 
these, the 1, goo-mile-long Great Barrier 
Reef off the northeast coast of Australia, 
is probably the greatest monument left 
by the tiny polyp. 

The coral atoll with its many islets 
and reefs is actually the visible portion 
of a single land mass resting on a sub- 
terranean mountain. It is a haven in a 
wilderness of ocean that forever rolls high 
to boil whitely against the fringing reefs. 
In the lagoon, where the waters are blue 
and calm and where fish abound, lie safety 
and sustenance. Troops stationed on a 
coral atoll during the war admired its 
beaches of dazzling sand where thousands 
of birds nest, and its rows of graceful 
palm trees whose fruit is the lifeblood 
of the atoll. And everywhere they saw 
coral, shaped and colored in infinite 
variety, and incomparably beautiful. 

It is the coral atoll that has become 
for many the typical South Sea island. 
Actually there is no typical Pacific island. 
Some are made of the same stuff as conti- 
nents, some of volcanic rock, and some of 
coral. In climate, size, height, and shape; 
in distribution of plant and animal life; 
in population, culture, and political affili- 
ation, they vary so widely as to defy any 
simple classification. Any grouping of 

the islands, whatever the basis chosen, 
must of necessity be a compromise. But 
since it is necessary, for convenience of 
description, to adopt some system, per- 
haps the most suitable would be that 
which was most familiar to the soldier of 
World War II, the division of the Pacific 
world into five groups — Australia, Indo- 
nesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, and Poly- 

Before examining this grouping more 
closely, it would be well to understand 
clearly the meaning of certain geographic 
terms-frequently used in connection with 
the Pacific world. One of these is the 
South Seas. As used by its originator, the 
Spanish explorer Balboa who first sighted 
the Pacific from his well-publicized peak 
in Darien, it referred to the waters off 
Panama, then to the trade routes followed 
by the Spanish galleons. More recently, 
it has been used loosely to refer to that 
portion of the ocean south of the equator. 
Oceania is another term that is loosely 
used. Generally it is taken to mean all 
the islands of the Pacific but some author- 
ities exclude Australia and the Indies, 
and others reserve the term for the 
French possessions in the southeast Pa- 
cific. There is no disagreement, however, 
about the international date line where 
one moves mysteriously from one day to 
another and which rarely failed to con- 
fuse the soldiers who sailed across it. It 
is the line which, except for zigzags to 
place politically related areas in the same 
time zone, coincides with the 180th me- 
ridian. When it is Sunday to the east of 
the line, it is Monday to the west. 

Of the five regions of the Pacific, 
Australia is the smallest in terms of ocean 
area covered, but the largest in terms of 
land mass. About 7,000 statute miles of 



ocean separate it from San Francisco 
and 8,000 from the Panama Canal, and, 
whether one travels east or west, London 
is 1 2, 000 miles distant. These facts alone 
explain why for centuries Australia, 
closer to but ignored by Asiatic countries, 
was for Europeans and Americans an 
isolated continent. 

The area of Australia is approximately 
the same as that of the continental 
United States, but most of it is flat and 
much of the western and central region is 
a desert. The coast line is regular — no 
continent has a rftore compact or smooth- 
er form — with few large natural harbors. 
The climate varies from tropical to tem- 
perate, and, since it lies entirely in the 
southern hemisphere, its seasons are the 
reverse of those in the United States. The 
most favorable year-round temperature is 
in the east and south, and it is there that 
the Europeans first settled, where indus- 
try and agriculture flourish, and where 
American troops were first stationed dur- 
ing the war. 

Second of the major divisions of the 
Pacific world is Indonesia, the world's 
largest archipelago and the treasure house 
of the Pacific. 3 

The islands of Indonesia are divided 
into three groups. The largest and most 
important of these, and the one that con- 
tains the bulk of the land in the archipela- 
go, is the Greatest Sunda group, which 
includes Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the 
Celebes. Extending eastward from Java to- 
ward Australia is a double chain of smaller 
islands known as the Lesser Sunda group 
in which lie Timor and the famed island of 
Bali. To the north, between the Celebes 

'Indonesia as a geographical and cultural unit is 
not to be confused with the political entity, the 
recently established Republic of Indonesia. 

and New Guinea, lie the Moluccas or Spice 
Islands. The entire archipelago, from the 
tip of Sumatra on the west to the Moluccas 
on the east, is almost 3,000 miles long, and 
from Borneo to Bali, about 1,000 miles 
wide. To the south is the Indian Ocean 
and to the north the Pacific Ocean and the 
South China Sea, that vital water route to 
the ports of Asia and Japan. Thus, lying 
between two continents and two oceans, 
Indonesia is the key to the control of the 
lines of communication in one of the most 
strategic areas in the world. 

Few regions of the world are so rich 
in resources, have so even and compara- 
tively pleasant a climate, and so much 
natural beauty and variety as Indonesia. 
The islands have mountainous spines 
skirted by extensive plains of great fer- 
tility, and a variety of plant and animal 
life equaled nowhere on earth. Gold, silk, 
spices, tea, and precious stones attracted 
adventurers and merchants from India 
and China to Indonesia centuries before 
the Portuguese and the Dutch ventured 
there in search of the luxuries of the 
Orient. Since then it has become one of 
the chief sources of the world's supply 
of rubber and quinine, kapok, pepper, 
and tea. It is one of the few places in 
the Far East where petroleum is found 
and its mineral resources are enormous. 
Little wonder that the islands of Indo- 
nesia have been coveted by the nations 
of Europe and Asia since earliest times. 

North of Indonesia, fringing the coast 
of Asia, are several large groups of islands 
which some geographers consider, with 
Indonesia, as part of the Asiatic land 
mass. To the American troops the best 
known of these were the Philippines. 
Comprising almost 7,100 islands, only 
one-third of them named, and extending 



Fujiyama, sacred mountain of Japan, dominates the Tokyo Bay area. (Photo taken in 1945 
with American warships in the harbor.) 

for 1,150 miles from Borneo to Formosa, 
the Philippine archipelago is strategically 
situated in the geographic heart of the Far 
East, athwart the trade routes between 
Japan and China to the north and Indo- 
nesia and southeast Asia to the south. 
Only eleven of the islands have an area 
greater than 1,000 square miles and two 
of these, Luzon and Mindanao, together 
comprise more than two-thirds of the 
1 15,600 square miles of land in the archi- 

Between the Philippines and Japan, 
forming a series of stepping stones north- 
ward, are Formosa and the Ryukyus. 
Named by Portuguese navigators the 
"Beautiful Island" and occupied briefly 

by the Dutch and the Japanese, Formosa 
has been largely under the control of the 
Chinese, who named the land Taiwan, 
or terrace bay, for its giant green terrace- 
like cliffs. The island has an area of 13,887 
square miles, almost twice that of the state 
of Maryland. About a hundred miles to 
the west, across Formosa Strait, lies the 
southeast coast of China, and Hong Kong 
is only 360 miles away. 

The Ryukyu Islands, scene of one of 
the last great battles of World War II, 
separate the East China Sea from the 
Pacific Ocean and extend in a wide arc 
from Formosa to Japan. In ancient times 
the land was ruled by native dynasties, 
but after the fourteenth century the is- 

On Board the Powhatan. Commodore Perry entertains the Japanese Commissioners in 
July 1854. 

lands paid tribute to China and then, 
in the twentieth century, to the Japa- 
nese, who finally took over control of the 

The Japanese archipelago consists of 
four main islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, 
Shikoku, and Kyushu, and hundreds of 
smaller islands which extend in a 1,250- 
mile-long arc off the coast of Asia. The 
total land area of the archipelago is about 
the same as that of the state of Montana, 
147,000 square miles, over half of which 
is accounted for by Honshu, the so-called 
Japanese mainland and site of the capital 
and chief cities. The structure of the 
islands is volcanic and mountainous, but 
there are few mineral resources and only 

20 percent of the land is arable. Most of 
Japan's people live on the plains, the most 
notable of which is the Kanto Plain, 
which includes Tokyo and has a popula- 
tion density of 750 to 900 persons to the 
square mile. It is on these plains that 
the rice, barley, and millet needed to 
feed the people is grown and so intensive 
is the system of cultivation that as many 
as four crops are produced in a year. 
Fishing boats swarm over the waters 
around Japan and provide that other 
staple of the Japanese diet. Meat, milk, 
and dairy products are scarce and little 
used in Japan, and cheese is so little liked 
that it is said even the Japanese rats will 
not eat it. 



The Japanese islands are the only ones 
in the Pacific that have retained their 
independence and integrity since earliest 
times. According to legend, Japan was 
founded by the goddess of the sun and its 
rulers are her direct descendants. Before 
the middle of the sixteenth century the 
islands had a loosely organized feudal 
government headed by a shogun, or mili- 
tary leader, and virtually independent 
lords. After a period of internal conflict 
in the sixteenth century, the country 
came under new rulers who reformed the 
government and followed a policy of 
complete isolation from the rest of the 
world. It was not until Admiral Perry's 
visit in 1853 that Japan entered the 
community of nations, began to adopt 
western customs and techniques, and 
embarked on a policy of expansion. 

Eastward across the Pacific, the direc- 
tion taken by the successive waves of 
migration from Asia, lie the three re- 
maining major divisions of the Pacific 
world: Micronesia and Melanesia, lying 
side by side along the equator, and Poly- 
nesia, whose islands fall within a vast 
triangle extending from Hawaii to Easter 
Island to New Zealand. These names, so 
deceptively alike, include areas of wide 
variation in climate and physical en- 
vironment, and a great diversity in racial 
and cultural patterns. 

The islands of Micronesia (meaning 
tiny islands in Greek) lie north of the 
equator, between the Philippines and 
the date line, an ocean area larger than 
the continental United States. The 
amount of land in this huge expanse of 
ocean, however, totals only 1,260 square 
miles, about as much as Rhode Island. 
Most of this land consists of low coral 
atolls, but many of the islands are vol- 
canic in structure with peaks as high as 

3,000 feet. Farthest north and closest to 
the Bonins, scene of the bloody battle for 
Iwo Jima, are the Mariana Islands, rest- 
ing on the edge of a vast submerged 
mountain chain jutting deeply into 
Micronesia. It is on the southern ex- 
tremity of this group that Guam, the 
largest island of Micronesia and an im- 
portant American base in World War 
II, is located. Westernmost of the Micro- 
nesian islands and about 500 miles off 
the coast of Mindanao are the Palaus 
where soldiers and marines also fought 
during the war. From here the islands 
stretch eastward, south of the Marianas, 
for about 2,000 miles through the mys- 
terious Caroline Islands, where lie Yap 
and Truk. Along the eastern border of 
Micronesia, roughly parallel to the date 
line, are two other island groups: the 
Marshall Islands, to which belong Bikini 
and Eniwetok, and the Gilbert Islands, 
where lie Makin and Tarawa, the scenes 
of important battles in the war against 

The importance of the tiny islands of 
Micronesia is far out of proportion to 
their size. For the prehistoric settlers 
from Asia they provided malaria-free 
homes and, for those who followed later, 
stopping places on the voyage farther 
eastward. Since Magellan's time they 
have been a vital link in Pacific trade 
and communication, and a source of 
critical materials such as phosphate and 
bauxite. Guam served the Spanish gal- 
leons, and, 300 years later, the U.S. Navy 
and Pan-American aircraft. Truk, once 
a Spanish and then a German possession, 
became later the nerve center for the 
Japanese Imperial Navy in the central 
Pacific. Today, naval bases, airports, and 
cable and weather stations are scattered 
throughout the area and it is here that 



the latest models of the atom and hydro- 
gen bombs have been tested. 

South of Micronesia, parallel and al- 
most equal to it in extent, is Melanesia, 
the black islands, so named for the com- 
plexion of its people. The islands of 
Melanesia form a broad-curving arc that 
stretches east and south from Indonesia 
to the date line. Though these islands 
have certain characteristics in common 
— climate, location, and structure — they 
represent the widest diversity of cultur- 
al and racial patterns in the Pacific 
and are grouped together only because it 
would be more confusing to group them 

Melanesia is probably the poorest 
place in the world to live, to work, or to 
fight, a verdict with which all soldiers 
unlucky enough to be stationed there 
heartily agreed. For convenience, it may 
be divided into a western and an eastern 
area. The first includes dragon-shaped 
New Guinea, second largest island in the 
world and almost continental in the 
variety of its climate, structure, and plant 
and animal life; the islands of the Bis- 
marck Archipelago, New Ireland, and 
New Britain with its magnificent natural 
harbor at Rabaul; and, guarding the 
northern approaches to the Bismarck 
Archipelago, the Admiralty Islands. To- 
gether, these islands comprise one of the 
most backward and least-known regions 
of the world, peopled largely by the prim- 
itive black, fuzzy-haired Papuans, and a 
strange variety of bird life — the ostrich- 
like cassowary, the brilliantly hued but 
raucous bird of paradise, and the snow- 
white cockatoo. But their shore lines 
contain anchorages large enough to ac- 
commodate the combined fleets of the 
world, and their position adjacent to 
Indonesia and north of Australia gives 

them great strategic importance. 

The eastern portion of Melanesia con- 
sists of six major groups of islands: the 
Solomons, Santa Cruz, New Hebrides, 
New Caledonia, Loyalty, and Fiji. The 
Solomon Islands, which stretch in a 
double northwest-southeast chain for 700 
miles to the east of New Guinea, include 
seven major and many small islands, 
whose names sound the roll of notable 
American battles: Guadalcanal, Tulagi, 
New Georgia, Vella Lavella, and Bou- 
gainville. With their damp, hot climate, 
malarial mosquito, and well-nigh im- 
penetrable jungle they constitute one of 
the most forbidding areas on earth. 

Southeast of the Solomons lie the New 
Hebrides, and below them, New Cale- 
donia. To the east and forming the 
eastern limit of Melanesia are the Fiji 
Islands, whose remarkably well-built na- 
tives were once the most famous canni- 
bals of the South Seas. 

Last and largest of the regions of 
Oceania and the most homogeneous of 
its cultural and racial groupings, is 
Polynesia. It extends from New Zealand, 
far to the south and 1,200 miles east of 
Australia, to lonely Easter Island, out- 
post of Polynesia and home of an ancient 
and still unknown civilization, a distance 
of 4,000 miles. And from Easter to Mid- 
way and Kure, northernmost of the 
Hawaiian chain, is almost 1,000 miles 
more. In this vast ocean area, four times 
larger than the continental United States, 
are scattered innumerable bits of land 
whose total area, exclusive of New Zea- 
land, is no larger than the state of Ver- 

The southern apex of Polynesia con- 
sists of two large mountainous islands 
and their outlying clusters of land known 
collectively as New Zealand. The islands 



which became a rest area for American 
troops during the war, measure about 
1,000 miles from north to south and 
extend from the subtropical to the sub- 
arctic regions with seasons comparable 
to but reversed from those in the United 

Northernmost of the Polynesian is- 
lands is the Hawaiian chain and the 
island outposts nearby. The chain ex- 
tends for almost 2,000 miles in a north- 
west-southeast direction. Located 2,100 
miles from San Francisco, 3,400 miles 
from Yokohama, and midway between 
Panama and Manila, the Hawaiian Is- 
lands stand at the crossroads of the air 
and water routes of the central Pacific. 

Only eight of the Hawaiian islands 
are inhabited. The most important are 
Hawaii, Maui, and Oahu, where the 
capital city and most of the islands' mili- 
tary and naval installations are located. 
At the opposite end of the Hawaiian 
chain, 1,300 miles northwest of Hono- 
lulu, is Midway, a lonely coral atoll six 
miles in diameter, where the United 
States won its first important victory 
after Pearl Harbor. Together with Wake 
and Johnston Islands, Midway is impor- 
tant chiefly as a civil air station and mili- 
tary base. 

The remaining islands of Polynesia, 
with a few minor exceptions, lie below 
the equator and east of the Fijis, an area 
to which few American troops found 
their way. The most important of these 
are Tonga, Samoa, and the islands of 
French Oceania. The Tonga, or Friendly 
Islands as Captain Cook called them, lie 
to the east of the Fijis and extend for 200 
miles north and south. There are about 
150 islands in the group, the largest of 
which, Tonga tabu, is about 100 square 
miles in extent. The Samoa Islands to 

the north extend in an east-west direction 
for about 300 miles. Western Samoa, 
which includes the two largest islands, is 
under the control of New Zealand, and 
the eastern portion, including Tutuila 
with its splendid harbor of Pago Pago, 
is American and was administered by 
the U.S. Navy until 1951. 

French Oceania is comprised of seven 
separate groups of islands, the most im- 
portant of which are the Marquesas, 
Society, and Tuamotu. The Society 
Islands are probably the most storied 
islands of Oceania. Almost all of the 
eighteenth century explorers of the Pa- 
cific stopped there and wrote glowing 
accounts of the people and the land. 
The largest island in the group and the 
one most often associated with tales of 
adventure and romance is Tahiti. The 
Tuamotu group is one of the largest 
archipelagoes in the Pacific, consisting 
of seventy-six atolls and stretching south- 
east of the Societies for about 1,300 
miles. Remote from Asia, "America, or 
Australia, subject to destructive hurri- 
canes, and lacking fresh water or a fertile 
soil, the Tuamotu Islands have never 
attracted as much interest as other Poly- 
nesian islands. 

Far to the north of Polynesia, separat- 
ing the Pacific Ocean from the Bering 
Sea, lie the Aleutian Islands. From 
Alaska they sweep eastward for over 
1 ,000 miles, like a finger pointing at Asia. 
Poor in resources and scene of some of 
the most disagreeable weather in the 
world, the islands were for many years 
almost ignored by the great powers. But 
their strategic location between America 
and Asia marked them as outposts for 
the defense of Alaska and a target for 
the Japanese early in the war. 



The Great Powers in the Pacific 

The exploitation and settlement of the 
Pacific world by Europeans had begun 
with the first voyages of the Portuguese 
and Spanish. 4 Under the papal Line of 
Demarcation, these two nations had in 
1494 divided the world between them, 
Spain claiming exclusive rights to all 
land 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde 
Islands and Portugal all land to the 
east. The main objective of Magellan's 
voyage had been to find a shorter, west- 
ern passage to the Spice Islands, which 
the Portuguese held, and thus prove that 
these islands fell within Spain's half of 
the world. Though he found the western 
passage, Magellan failed to establish 
Spain's rights to the Spice Islands and 
the Portuguese continued to enjoy ex- 
clusive control of the highly profitable 
trade of the Indies. There was none to 
challenge Spain's rights to the rest of the 
Pacific world, however, and Spanish gal- 
leons sailed regularly between ports in 
the new world and the outposts of em- 
pire in the Marshalls, the Carolines, the 
Marianas, and the Philippines. 

The Dutch empire in the Far East 
was exclusively economic. The Portu- 
guese and Spanish sought converts to 
Christianity as well as spice and gold; 
the Dutch wasted no energy on saving 

4 For accounts of the exploration and exploitation 
of the Pacific, see J. C. Beaglehole, The Exploration 
of the Pacific (London: A & C Black, Ltd., 1934); 
Oliver, The Pacific Islands, pp. 63—103; Freeman, ed., 
Geography 0} the Pacific, pp. 61—87; Robson, The 
Pacific Islands Handbook; Samuel Eliot Morison, 
The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1J83-1S60 
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921); Christo- 
pher Lloyd, Pacific Horizons, The Exploration of 
the Pacific Before Captain Cook (London: Allen & 
Unwin, 1946); James A. Williamson, Cook and the 
Opening of the Pacific (New York: The Macmillan 
Company, 1948). 

men's souls or on settlements. With 
single-minded persistence they sought 
economic advantages in the Far East and 
ultimately established a flourishing com- 
mercial empire extending as far as For- 
mosa and Japan. 

The English and French entered the 
Pacific much later. Following the prece- 
dent set by Sir Francis Drake, they first 
sought the wealth of the Pacific in the 
holds of Spanish galleons and in weakly 
defended Spanish settlements. In the 
years from 1675 to 1726 alone there were 
over a hundred English and French 
voyages into the Pacific, most of them 
officially sponsored buccaneering expe- 
ditions. But, despite the weakness of 
Spain, neither government showed any 
inclination to extend its sovereignty into 
the Pacific, Instead, it was the whalers, 
the traders, and the blackbirders who 
first brought western civilization to 

The establishment of trading posts, 
plantations, and missions was the prel- 
ude to annexation. As a result of the 
explorations of the eighteenth century, 
England and France had established con- 
flicting claims to most of the Pacific 
world, but because of trouble in Europe 
and the belief that these islands were 
scarcely worth the risk of war neither 
government had pushed its claims. Eng- 
land, it is true, had established a penal 
colony in Australia shortly after the 
American Revolution, but no one op- 
posed British claims to the isolated 
continent. Nor was there any serious 
opposition when France established a 
protectorate over Tahiti, then over all 
the Society and Marquesas Islands. But 
under the urging of the planters, mer- 
chants, and missionaries who now had 
an important stake in the Pacific, the 



attitude of the governments changed and 
each sought to establish its claims. To 
these interests was added later in the 
century the need for coaling stations 
and strategic bases, a need created by 
the use of steamships and the increased 
importance of Japan, Australia, and New 
Zealand in world politics and economics. 

By the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, the fight for the most desirable 
islands in the Pacific was on in earnest. 
England's efforts to settle New Zealand 
in the 1820's and i83o's had met strong 
opposition from the French and its was 
not until 1840 that the British felt their 
claim to the islands sufficiently strong to 
annex them. The French in their turn 
barely nosed out the English in New 
Caledonia, which Captain Cook had 
discovered, and annexed the island with 
its rich mineral resources in 1853. 5 

When German vessels began appear- 
ing in the Pacific, the race became three- 
cornered. In 1868 the Hamburg firm of 
Godeffroy began operations from Samoa 
and before long had branches in Hawaii, 
Fiji, and New Guinea. Though these 
activities were not official, they worried 
the British enough to make them annex 
the Fijis when German vessels began 
showing an undue interest in these is- 
lands. The French then strengthened 
their position in French Oceania by 
making Tahiti a colony and formally 
annexing the Tuamotus. 

"For the rivalry o£ the Western Powers in the 
Pacific, see: Jean I. Brookes, International Rivalry 
in the Pacific Islands, 1800-1875 (Berkeley, Calif.: 
University of California Press, 1941); Foster R. 
Dulles, America in the Pacific (Boston: Houghton 
Mitflin Company, 1932); Sylvia Masterman, The Ori- 
gins oj International Rivalry in Samoa, 1845-1884 
(Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1934); 
Richard W. Van Alstyne, "Great Britain, the United 
States, and Hawaiian Independence, 1850-1855," 
Pacific Historical Review, IV (1935), 15—24. 

The German Government began ac- 
quiring land in the Pacific in 1884, after 
Bismarck had endorsed a strong expan- 
sionist policy. In that year the Germans 
seized the Bismarck Archipelago and the 
northeast coast of New Guinea. The 
Dutch had already added western New 
Guinea to their empire in 1828 and the 
British took the remaining portion of 
New Guinea for themselves. The next 
year the Germans seized control of the 
northern Solomons and, with splendid 
disdain for Spanish rights, hoisted the 
imperial flag over Yap and established a 
protectorate over the Caroline and Mar- 
shall Islands. The English and French 
thereupon proceeded to help themselves 
to additional slices of the Pacific pie. 
The two nations in 1887 established 
joint dominion (condominium) over 
the New Hebrides and the following 
year England established a protectorate 
over the Cook Islands, Before the end 
of the century, Samoa, the Gilbert and 
Ellice Islands, the Southern Solomons 
and Tonga had been divided among the 
powers, with England getting the lion's 

The United States embarked on a 
colonial career in the Pacific compara- 
tively late. With its energies absorbed 
in the settlement of a continent and in 
the Civil War, the United States was 
unable to take advantage of the early 
interest of the whalers and traders who 
had ventured so daringly and profited 
so enormously in the Pacific. But the 
ambition to establish mastery of the 
ocean and its commerce was almost as 
old as the republic, and formed a con- 
sistent pattern in the patchwork of west- 
ward expansion to the Pacific coast. 
Americans had discovered the mouth of 
the Columbia River in 1792, and had 



taken the lead in the whaling industry 
and the China trade. During the War 
of 1812, Captain David Porter raised the 
American flag in the Marquesas and 
established happy relations with the na- 
tives, a relationship which "with the 
common sailors and their girls all was 
helter skelter." 6 

But the government showed little in- 
clination to follow up Porter's action and 
no claim was made to the island. Forty 
years later another naval officer, Commo- 
dore Matthew G. Perry, met the same 
reception to his proposals to establish 
bases in the Ryukyus, the Bonins, and 
Formosa. Ironically, the most significant 
result of his expedition to Japan was to 
promote the development of a nation 
which in time was to become America's 
chief rival in the Pacific. 

Despite the hopes and initiative of 
many who dreamed of an American em- 
pire in the Pacific, the government moved 
slowly. In 1856 it passed the Guano Act 
which permitted U.S. claims to unoccu- 
pied islands for the purpose of working 
the guano deposits. These deposits were 
much in demand as fertilizer, and claims 
were laid to forty-eight islands, largely 
in the Line and Phoenix groups. But the 
guano, which had required thousands of 
years and countless millions of birds to 
create, was exhausted in twenty-five years 
and with it disappeared American inter- 
est in the islands. Most of the islands 
finally went to England, but the United 
States did establish claims to Howland, 
Baker, Palmyra, and other small islands 
which proved useful later in building a 
military air route across the south Pacific. 

The acquisition of Alaska, Midway, 
and Samoa also came in this period. The 

"Quoted from Captain David Porter's Journal by 
Dulles, America in the Pacific, p. 100. 

first was acquired, with the Aleutians, by 
purchase from Russia in 1867 and gave 
the United States many more thousands 
of miles of Pacific coast line as well as an 
arc of islands extending far across the 
north Pacific. Midway, which was dis- 
covered by an American vessel in 1859, 
was formally annexed the same year as 
the Alaska purchase, and about the same 
time other small islands between it and 
Hawaii were acquired. But all proposals 
to take over the Hawaiian Islands, where 
the Americans held a dominant position, 
were rejected by Congress. The United 
States did, however, at the urging of the 
Navy acquire the right to establish a 
naval station at Pearl Harbor in 1884. 
It was also largely through the efforts of 
the Navy, backed by commercial groups, 
that the United States gained the harbor 
of Pago Pago in iS^. More than twenty 
years later the United States acquired 
Tutuila in eastern Samoa while Ger- 
many took the western half of the islands. 
England, in return for German conces- 
sions in Tonga and the Solomons, with- 
drew altogether from Samoa. 

American expansion into the Pacific 
reached its peak with the annexation of 
the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands at 
the end of the century. As early as 1843 
there were more Americans in Hawaii 
than all other foreign nationals, and the 
value of their property was over one 
million dollars. They held posts of re- 
sponsibility in the government and virtu- 
ally controlled the political and economic 
life of the island. For years they urged 
annexation by the mother country and 
by i860 the issue was being debated 
hotly in the United States. Finally in 
1 893 the Americans in Hawaii overthrew 
the native monarch, established a repub- 
lic, and requested annexation to the Unit- 



ed States. The offer was rejected, largely 
because of President Cleveland's opposi- 
tion, but the new republic of Hawaii was 
recognized as the rightful government 
and, with support from important in- 
terests in the United States, continued 
to press for annexation. The Spanish- 
American war and the increasing interest 
of the Japanese in the islands led to a 
change of attitude. On 1 1 July 1 898, by a 
joint resolution of Congress, the Repub- 
lic of Hawaii was annexed by the United 

The great prize of the Spanish -Ameri- 
can War, which ousted Spain from the 
Pacific and made the United States a full- 
fledged colonial power, was the Philip- 
pine islands. But having won the islands 
by force, the American Government still 
had to decide what to do with them. 
Germany, fishing in troubled waters, had 
a fleet in Manila Bay and was ready to 
take over if the United States defaulted. 
McKinley's decision was for annexation, 
and formal cession of the islands, as well 
as of Guam, was made on 10 December 
1898 with the signing of the Treaty of 
Paris. Few considered the other Marianas 
and the Carolines worth taking and Ger- 
many purchased them from Spain soon 

The construction of the Panama Canal 
completed the transformation of the 
United States into a Pacific power. The 
first Spanish explorers had searched eager- 
ly for a way around America and had 
found the westward passage far to the 
south. But this route was a long one, and 
Americans during the California gold 
rush had as often gone overland across 
the disease-ridden Isthmus of Panama to 
save time. A water route across the isth- 
mus from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
would cut off almost 10,000 miles from 

the journey, and the French began work 
on a canal in 1880. This effort failed, 
but American engineers took up the task 
in 1902 and when the canal opened in 
1914 the United States gained control of 
the eastern gateway to the Pacific. 

Last to enter the Pacific in search of 
empire, though itself a Pacific power, was 
Japan. In the years after Commodore 
Perry's visit, Japan, emulating the West- 
ern Powers, began to extend its control 
over weaker neighbors and to push its 
boundaries north and south. Between 
1875 and 1880 the Japanese acquired the 
Kurils (Chishima) , the Bonins, and the 
Ryukyus. The Sino-Japanese War in 
1894-95 gave Japan Formosa and the 
Pescadores, accorded Korea a nominal 
independence, and demonstrated to a 
surprised world that Japan was a factor 
to be reckoned with in the Far East. In 
the treaty ending the war China also 
ceded to Japan the Liaotung Peninsula 
in southern Manchuria, but Russia, 
France, and Germany forced Japan to 
disgorge the peninsula. 7 

American annexation of Hawaii and, 
next year, of the Philippines aroused 
strong hostility in a Japan which was al- 
ready angered by the French, Russian, 
and German interference with the provi- 
sions of the treaty with China. Many 
Japanese were convinced that the aims 
of the nation could only be achieved by 
force, and the influence of the Army and 
Navy, already considerable, increased 
sharply. As a result Japan embarked on 
a military and naval expansion program 
designed to make the nation so strong 

'It is interesting to note that acceptance of the 
Russian, German, and French terms was decided by 
a seidan, that is, a sacred or personal decision of the 
Emperor Meiji, and was the only precedent for Hiro- 
hito's personal decision to end the war in 1945. 



that it would never again suffer so humil- 
iating an experience. 8 

Japan's first opportunity to test its new 
strength came in 1904 when, without the 
formality of a declaration of war, it at- 
tacked Russia. Despite unqualified suc- 
cess on land and sea, the Japanese were 
anxious to end the war within a year 
because of the heavy drain on the na- 
tion's resources. When President Theo- 
dore Roosevelt offered to mediate the 
dispute, therefore, both nations promptly 
accepted and some months later the 
Treaty of Portsmouth was signed. By 
this treaty, Russia recognized Japan's 
paramount interests in Korea and trans- 
ferred to Japan the lease on the Liaotung 
Peninsula, railway and mining privileges 
in southern Manchuria, and the south- 
ern half of Sakhalin. Five years later 
Japan added Korea to its empire, and, 
by secret agreement with Russia, made 
southern Manchuria a Japanese sphere 
of influence. 

Japan's opportunity to expand into 
the Pacific came with the outbreak of war 
in Europe in 1914. Using the pretext 
of the alliance with England signed in 
1902, Japan declared war on Germany 
and seized the Marshall, Caroline and 
Mariana (except Guam) Islands, thus 
extending the Japanese empire almost 
3,000 miles into the Pacific. Other 
Pacific powers, it should be noted, did 
not let this opportunity for expansion 

s For Japanese expansion and Japan's relations to 
other powers in the Pacific, see Roy H. Akagi, Japan's 
Foreign Relations, 1542—1936 (Tokyo: Hokuseido 
Press, 1937); Payson J. Treat, Diplomatic Relations 
Betxoeen the United States and Japan, iS^—iSg^, 
2 vols. (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 
1932); Kenneth Scott Latourette, The History of 
Japan (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947); 
Paul Clyde, The Far East (New York: Prentice-Hall, 

go by without gain to themselves. Aus- 
tralia took over the German possessions 
in New Guinea, the Solomons, and the 
Bismark Archipelago, and New Zealand 
troops occupied western Samoa. Japan, 
not content with expansion into the 
Pacific, took over Germany's interests in 
the Shantung Province of China and the 
port of Tsingtao as well. The following 
year, 1915, in the Twenty-One Demands, 
Japan requested from China enormous 
additional economic and political con- 
cessions which, had they been granted, 
would have brought that nation under 
Japanese domination. But a vigorous 
protest from the United States, and other 
reasons, forced Japan to withdraw the 
most drastic of the demands. 

By the Treaty of Versailles, Japan's 
wartime acquisitions, already approved 
by secret agreements with Britain, 
France, Russia, and Italy, were formally 
sanctioned. President Wilson opposed 
strongly the cession of the German is- 
lands to Japan, asserting that their only 
value was military and that their con- 
trol by Japan would make the defense 
of the Philippines virtually impossible. 
But he failed to win over the Allies and 
Japan was granted under a mandate the 
islands it had seized, while England and 
Australia secured similar sanction for 
their actions. 

With the Treaty of Versailles, the 
division of the Pacific world was com- 
plete. Japan was the dominant power 
in the western Pacific, north of the 
equator, and held almost all of Micro- 
nesia. The United States controlled the 
northeast Pacific with Hawaii and the 
Aleutians, and held outposts deep in 
Japanese-controlled territory in Guam, 
Wake, and the Philippines. The British 
Empire was dominant in the central and 



southwestern Pacific, from Samoa west- 
ward to Australia and New Guinea, in- 
cluding almost all of Melanesia. France 
held most of the southeast Pacific, 
French Oceania, as well as New Caledo- 
nia, and, jointly with the English, the 
New Hebrides. The Dutch still had 
their rich empire in the East Indies, and 
in addition held the western portion of 
New Guinea. No nation could expand 

in the Pacific except at the expense of 
another and in violation of existing 
treaties. For Japan, this meant conflict 
with the stronger Western Powers. But 
on the Asiatic continent lay a weakened 
China and it was there that Japan sought 
the fulfillment for her dreams of empire. 
And it was there, in China and Man- 
churia, that the seeds for conflict with 
the United States were sown. 



Am I deceived, or was there a clash of arms? I am not deceived, it was 
a clash of arms; Mars approaches, and, approaching, gave the sign of war. 


For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower of rain but in an 
inclination thereto of many days together; so the nature of war consisteth 
not in actual fighting but in the known disposition thereto during all the 
time there is no assurance to the contrary. Thomas Hobbes 


The Beginnings of Pacific Strategy 

Covenants without swords are but words. 

Hobbes, Leviathan 

At the turn of the twentieth century, 
after the war with Spain, the United 
States for the first time in a hundred 
years found itself involved closely in the 
affairs of other nations. Possession of 
the Philippine Islands, Guam, Hawaii, 
and part of the Samoan archipelago had 
made the United States a world power 
and imposed on it the grave responsibil- 
ity of defending outposts far from its 
shores. Such a defense rested, as Admiral 
Alfred Thayer Mahan had demonstrated, 
on sea power, on the possession of naval 
bases and a powerful fleet. Without 
these, no island garrison could hope to 
prevail against a naval power strong 
enough to gain supremacy in the Pacific. 

Theodore Roosevelt, a close friend 
and student of Admiral Mahan, under- 
stood the importance of sea power and 
it was no accident that during his admin- 
istration steps were taken to strengthen 
the Navy and to build the Panama 
Canal. But the work begun by him was 
not pushed vigorously in the years that 
followed. The American people were 
overwhelmingly isolationist and unwill- 
ing to pay the price of colonial empire. 
Thus, almost from the beginning of 
America's venture into imperialism the 
nation committed itself to political ob- 
jectives but would not maintain the 
naval and military forces required to 
suppon these objectives. It is against 

this background that American strategy 
in the Pacific and plans for the defense 
of U.S. island outposts must be viewed; 
it explains many of the seeming incon- 
sistencies between policies and plans. 

Early Plans for Defense 

The defense of the 7,100 islands in 
the Philippine archipelago, lying in an 
exposed position 7,000 miles from the 
west coast of the United States, was for 
over thirty years the basic problem of 
Pacific strategy. From the start it was 
apparent that it would be impossible to 
defend all or even the major islands. A 
choice had to be made, and it fell inevi- 
tably on Luzon, the largest, richest, and 
most important of the islands. Only a 
few months after his victory in Manila 
Bay, Admiral Dewey, asserting that 
Luzon was the most valuable island in 
the Philippines, "whether considered 
from a commercial or military stand- 
point," recommended that a naval sta- 
tion be established there. 1 In the years 
that followed there was never any devia- 
tion from this view. Down to the out- 
break of World War II that island, and 

'Ltr, Dewey to John D. Long, Secy Navy, 29 Aug 
98, quoted in O. J. Clinard, "Japan's Influence on 
American Naval Power, 1897—1917," University of 
California Publications in History, vol. XXXVI 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1947), p 27. 



especially the Manila area with its fine 
harbor and transportation facilities, re- 
mained the chief problem for American 
strategic planners. 

Though the basic element of Pacific 
strategy was a strong Navy with support- 
ing bases, this alone would not suffice. 
Successful defense of an insular position 
like the Philippines required an Army 
garrison, coastal fortifications, and mo- 
bile forces to resist invasion. And per- 
haps as important as any of these was 
the close co-operation of the Army and 
Navy. In a sense, this was the vital ele- 
ment that would blend the ingredients 
of defense into a strategic formula for 

The mechanism devised for Army- 
Navy co-operation was the Joint Board, 
established in 1903 by the two service 
Secretaries. The board, consisting of 
eight members — four from the Army's 
General Staff and four from the General 
Board of the Navy — had a modest task 
initially. To it came all matters that 
required co-operation between the two 
services. It had no executive functions 
or command authority, and reported to 
the War and Navy Secretaries. Its recom- 
mendations were purely advisory, and 
became effective only upon approval by 
both Secretaries, and, in some cases, by 
the President himself. 2 

Almost from the start, the main task 
of the Joint Board was the development 
of war plans. The impetus was provided 
by Lt. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, Army 
Chief of Staff, who proposed in April 

2 The board initially had no staff and its member- 
ship was by individual appointment rather than by 
office. In 1919, is was reorganized, given a Joint Plan- 
ning Committee which functioned as a working 
group, and its membership reduced to six — the chiefs 
of the services, their deputies, and the chiefs of the 
two War Plans Divisions. 

1904, shortly after Japan's attack on 
Russia, that the Joint Board develop a 
series of plans for joint action in an 
emergency requiring the co-operation of 
the services. These plans, he suggested, 
should be based upon studies developed 
by the Army General Staff and the Gen- 
eral Board of the Navy. 3 

From General Chaffee's proposal 
stemmed a series of war plans known as 
the color plans. Each of these plans was 
designed to meet a specific emergency 
designated by a color corresponding usu- 
ally to the code name of the nation in- 
volved — Red for Great Britain, Black 
for Germany, Green for Mexico, Orange 
for Japan. On the basis of these joint 
color plans each of the services developed 
its own plan to guide its operations in 
an emergency, and Army and Navy field 
and fleet commanders drew up the plans 
to carry out these operations. In some 
cases, the early war plans were little 
more than abstract exercises and bore 
little relation to actual events. But in 
the case of Japan, the Orange plans were 
kept under constant review and revised 
frequently to accord with changes in the 
international scene. 

The first serious examination of plans 
to resist a Japanese attack came in the 
summer of 1907. At that time tension 
between the United States and Japan, 
which had begun with the Japanese vic- 
tory over Russia in 1905 and the San 
Francisco School Board segregation order 
in 1906, reached the proportions of a 
war scare. War seemed imminent and 
the protection of American interests in 
the Far East, especially of the newly 

3 Ltr, Chaffee to Secy War, 28 Apr 04; Mins, JB 
Mtgs, 23 May and 24 Jun 04; Ltr, Brig Gen Tasker H. 
Bliss to Secy JB, 10 Jun 04, all in JB 325 (1903-1905), 
ser. 16. 



acquired Philippine Islands, became an 
urgent problem. On 18 June 1907, in 
response to an inquiry from President 
Theodore Roosevelt, the Joint Board 
recommended that the fleet be sent to 
the Orient as soon as possible and that 
Army and Navy forces in the Philippines 
be immediately deployed in such a man- 
ner as to protect the naval station at 
Subic Bay. Because of Japan's strength, 
the Joint Board stated, "The United 
States would be compelled ... to take 
a defensive attitude in the Pacific and 
maintain that attitude until reinforce- 
ments could be sent. . . . " 4 This view, 
adopted by necessity in 1907, became 
finally the keystone of America's strategy 
in the Pacific and the basis of all plan- 
ning for a war against Japan. 

The crisis of the summer of 1907, 
though it passed without incident, 
brought into sharp focus two weaknesses 
of America's position in the Pacific: the 
need for a major naval base in the area 
and the fact that the Philippine Islands 
could not be held except at great ex- 
pense and with a large force. The islands, 
wrote Roosevelt at the height of the 
crisis, "form our heel of Achilles. . . . 
I would rather see this nation fight all 
her life than to see her give them up to 
Japan or to any other nation under 
duress." 5 

The question of naval bases was de- 
bated by the Joint Board and by Con- 
gressional committees during the months 
that followed. Two questions had to be 
decided: first, whether America's major 

4 A summary of the Joint Board's views is contained 
in Ltr, Maj Gen Fred C. Ainsworth, TAG, to Maj 
Gen Leonard Wood, CG Philippines Div, 6 Jul 07, 
AG 1260092, National Archives. 

"Ltr, Roosevelt to Taft, 21 Aug 07, quoted by 
Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt (New York: 
Harcourt. Brace and Company, 1931), pp. 408-09. 

View From Manila Bay, showing Cor- 
regidor Island at center with Caballo Island 
al lower left and a portion of Bataan Pen- 
insula at upper right. 

base in the Pacific should be located in 
the Philippines or Hawaii; and second, 
whether the Philippines base should be 
in Subic Bay or Manila Bay. Though 
strong representation was made — espe- 
cially by the Army — for locating the 
major base in the Philippine Islands, 
the Joint Board in January 1908 selected 
Pearl Harbor. The Hawaiian base, the 
board pointed out, was not designed to 
defend the Hawaiian Islands alone but 
to provide "a buffer of defense'' for the 
entire Pacific coast and to lay the basis 
for American naval supremacy in the 
Pacific. In May of that year Congress 
authorized construction of the Pearl 
Harbor base and appropriated $1,000,000 
for the purpose. This step, the House 
Naval Affairs Committee believed, would 
constitute in the future "one of the 
strongest factors in the prevention of 



war with any powers in the Far East." 6 
Though the decision had been made 
to locate America's Pacific bastion in 
Hawaii, it was still necessary to provide 
for the defense of the Philippines, 5,000 
miles away. A naval repair station and 
a secondary fleet base would have to be 
constructed in the islands, but there was 
strong disagreement even on this ques- 
tion. The Navy favored Subic Bay but 
the Army asserted that a base there 
would be indefensible against land at- 
tack and that Manila Bay, for a variety 
of reasons, should be selected. The Joint 
Board finally decided in favor of Cavite, 
on the south shore of Manila Bay, and 
the Army adopted a plan to concentrate 
its defenses in and around that bay on 
the islands in its narrow neck — Corregi- 
dor, Caballo, El Fraile, and Carabao — 
thus screening the naval base as well as 
the capital and chief city of the islands. 
It was this concept — the defense of the 
Manila Bay area and the fortification of 
Corregidor and its neighboring islands — 
that guided American planners until the 
outbreak of war in 1941. 7 

But no system of fortifications could 
guarantee the defense o£ the islands. The 
essential thing, as Maj. Gen. Leonard 
Wood pointed out at the time, was a 
strong fleet based in the Philippines. 
"Once sea control is lost," he asserted, 
"the enemy can move troops in force 
and the question then becomes one of 
time." 8 Congress and the Joint Board, 

'House Reports, No. 1385, 60th Cong., 1st sess., 
4 Apr 08, pp. 2-3. 

'Cable, Wood to Ainsworth, 1 Nov 07; Ltrs, Lt Col 
Frederic V. Abbot and Capt Stanley D. Erabick to 
Wood, 27 Nov 07, both in AG 146009a, National 
Archives; Memos, JB for Secys War and Navy, 31 Jan 
and 5 Mar 08, JB 325. 

8 Ltr, Wood to Ainsworth, 23 Dec 07, AG 1260092, 
National Archives, 

by concentrating fleet facilities in Hawaii, 
had, in effect, relegated the Philippines 
to a secondary place in strategic plans 
for the Pacific and made all hopes for 
its defense dependent upon the security 
of Hawaii and the ability of the fleet to 
move westward from Pearl Harbor. 

The ORANGE Plan 

The first Orange plans were hardly 
plans at all but rather statements of 
principles, which, it was hoped, could 
be followed in the event of war with 
Japan. By 1913, the strategic principles 
of the plan had been exhaustively studied 
and were well understood. In case of 
war with Japan, it was assumed that the 
Philippines would be the enemy's first 
objective. Defense of the islands was 
recognized as dependent on the Battle 
Fleet, which, on outbreak of war, would 
have to make its way from the Caribbean 
area around the Cape — the Panama 
Canal was not yet completed — and then 
across the wide Pacific. Along the way 
the fleet would have to secure its line of 
communication, using the incomplete 
base at Pearl Harbor and the undevel- 
oped harbor at Guam. Once the fleet 
was established in Philippine waters, 
it could relieve the defenders, who pre- 
sumably would have held on during this 
period, variously estimated at three and 
four months. Thereafter, Army forces, 
reinforced by a steady stream of men and 
supplies, could take the offensive on the 
ground while the Navy contested for 
control of the western Pacific. 9 

"Memo, Brig Gen Montgomery M. Macomb, Chief, 
War College Div, for Chief of Staff, 13 Apr 15, sub: 
Plan for War With Japan, WCD 7820-16; Army Plan 
in Case of War in the Pacific Before the Panama 
Canal Is Completed, 19 May 13, approved by CofS, 
20 May 13, by order of Secy War, WCD 7820-13. 



During World War I planning for 
war in the Pacific was discontinued ex- 
cept for a brief flurry of activity in 1916, 
when Japanese vessels appeared off the 
Philippine Islands. And in the postwar 
period, the planners faced a situation 
considerably different from that of the 
earlier years. Then, Germany had been 
the chief threat to the peace in Europe. 
Now, with Germany in defeat and 
Russia in the throes of revolution, only 
Great Britain was in a position to engage 
the United States in war with any pros- 
pect of success. But economically and 
financially, England was in no condition 
for another conflict and there was no 
sentiment for war on either side of the 

The situation in the Pacific and Far 
East was different. Between Japan and 
the United States there were a number 
of unresolved differences and a reservoir 
of misunderstanding and ill will that 
made the possibility of conflict in that 
area much more likely than in the Atlan- 
tic. Moreover, Japan's position had been 
greatly strengthened as a result of the 
war and the treaties that followed. In 
the view of the planners, the most prob- 
able enemy in the foreseeable future was 
Japan. Thus, U.S. strategic thought in 
the years from 1919 to 1938 was largely 
concentrated on the problems presented 
by a conflict arising out of Japanese 
aggression against American interests or 
territory in the Far East. 

The strategic position of the United 
States in the Far East was altered funda- 
mentally by World War I. Military avia- 
tion had proved itself during the war 
and though its enormous potentialities 
for naval warfare were not yet fully 
appreciated it was still a factor to be 
considered. Of more immediate impor- 

tance was the transfer to Japan of the 
German islands in the Central Pacific. 
President Wilson had opposed this move 
at Versailles, arguing that it would place 
Japan astride the U.S. line of communi- 
cations and make the defense of the 
Philippines virtually impossible. But 
Wilson had been overruled by the other 
Allied leaders, and Japan had acquired 
the islands under a mandate from the 
League of Nations which prohibited 
their fortification. "At one time," wrote 
Capt. Harry E. Yarnell, one of the Navy 
planners, "it was the plan of the Navy 
Department to send a fleet to the Philip- 
pines on the outbreak of war. I am 
sure that this would not be done at the 
present time ... it seems certain that 
in the course of time the Philippines 
and whatever forces we may have there 
will be captured." 10 

Japan's position was further strength- 
ened during these years by the agree- 
ments reached at the Washington 
Conference of 1921-22. In the Five-Pow- 
er Naval Treaty concluded in February 
1922, Japan accepted the short end of 
the 5:5:3 ratio in capital ships in return 
for a promise from the other powers that 
they would preserve the status quo with 
regard to their bases in the western 
Pacific. This meant, in effect, that the 
United States would refrain from further 
fortifying its bases in the Philippines, 
Guam, the Aleutians, and other islands 
west of Hawaii, and that Great Britain 
would do the same in its possessions. 
The net result of this bargain was to 
give Japan a strong advantage over the 
Western Powers in the Pacific, for the 
agreement virtually removed the threat 

"Ltr, Yarnell to Col John McA. Palmer, 25 Apr 19, 
JB 325, ser. 28 C. 



Washington Conference, 1921-22. Seated at table, from left: Prince lyesato Tokugawa 
(Japan), Jules Jusserand (France), Albert Sarraut (France), Rene Viviani (France), 
Aristide Briand (France), Oscar W. Underwood (U.S.), Elihu Root (U.S.), Henry Cabot 
Lodge (U.S.), Charles Evans Hughes (U.S.), Lord A. J. Balfour (Britain), Lord Lee of 
Fareharn (Britain ), Sir Aukland Geddes ( Britain ), Sir Robert Borden ( Canada ), G. F. Pearce 
(Australia), Sir John Salmond (New Zealand), and Srinivasa Sastri (India). 

posed by the Philippines, Guam, and 
Hong Kong. The British still had Singa- 
pore, but the United States had lost the 
opportunity to develop adequate base 
facilities in the Ear Pacific. With that 
loss, wrote Capt. Dudley W. Knox, went 
all chances of defending the Philippines 
and providing a military sanction for 
American policy. 11 

"Capt Dudley W. Knox (USN), The Eclipse of 
American Sea Power (New York: American Army 8c 
Navy Journal, Inc., 1922), pp. 135—36. 

The Washington Conference brought 
the Philippines to the fore in a way 
apparently neither intended nor fore- 
seen. Of the bases available for opera- 
tions in the western Pacific they alone 
had facilities capable of supporting a 
naval force large enough to challenge 
Japanese supremacy in that region. 
Guam, which up to this time had been 
regarded as a more desirable base site 
than the Philippines but which had not 
yet been developed, now became of sec- 



ondary importance. The Aleutians and 
Samoa were too remote to serve the pur- 
pose. The Philippines were, therefore, 
in the words of the recently formed 
Planning Committee, set up in 1919 to 
assist the Joint Board, "our most valu- 
able strategic possession in the Western 
Pacific." So long as the Five-Power Naval 
Treaty remained in effect, they argued, 
the islands' fleet facilities and coastal 
defenses should be maintained to the 
extent permitted. At the same time, the 
Philippine garrison should be so strength- 
ened, urged the planners, as to make the 
capture of the islands by any enemy "a 
costly major operation." 12 

By now the situation in the Pacific 
had so invalidated the assumption of 
earlier planning for a war with Japan 
as to require a complete review of strategy 
and the preparation of new plans. This 
need was emphasized by the Army plan- 
ners when they submitted to the Joint 
Planning Committee in December 1921 
a "Preliminary Estimate of the Situa- 
tion," together with a recommendation 
for a new joint Army-Navy Orange plan. 
"It may safely be assumed," they de- 
clared, "that Japan is the most probable 
enemy." That nation's policy of expan- 
sion and its evident intention to secure 
a dominant position in the Far East, 
argued the Army planners, were bound 
to come into conflict sooner or later with 
American interests and policy in that 
region. Unless either or both countries 
showed some disposition to give way, a 
contingency the planners regarded as 
unlikely, this conflict of interests would 
lead ultimately to war. 13 

"Ltr, JPC to JB, 13 Apr 22, sub: Defense of Phil, 
JB 303, ser. 179. 

"Preliminary Estimate of the Situation, War Plan 
Ora\t.e, 3 Dec 21, WPD 368. 

592496 0-62-4 

The Navy planners had by this time 
completed their own estimate of the 
situation in the Pacific. Their conclu- 
sion, submitted at the end of July 1922, 
was that the Japanese could, if they 
wished, take both the Philippines and 
Guam before the U.S. Fleet could reach 
the western Pacific. The role of the 
Philippine garrison, as the Navy plan- 
ners saw it, would be to hold out as long 
as possible and to make the operation 
as costly as possible for the enemy. What 
would happen to the garrison thereafter 
the planners did not specify, but they 
hoped that the sacrifice of American 
forces would be justified by the damage 
done to the enemy. 14 

But Leonard Wood, Governor-Gen- 
eral of the Philippines, disagreed strongly 
with the Navy estimate. A former Chief 
of Staff of the U.S. Army and commander 
of the Philippine Department, with 
influential friends in Washington, his 
word carried considerable weight. In 
his view, the "assumption on the part 
of the Navy that in case of war with 
Japan the Philippine Islands could not 
be defended, must be abandoned, and a 
long war waged to take them back and 
re-establish ourselves in the Far East" 
was a fatal error. Such a course, he told 
the Secretary of War with feeling, would 
damage the prestige of the United States 
in the eyes of the world, would have a 
"disintegrating and demoralizing effect 
upon our people," and could end 
only in national dishonor. " I feel sure," 
General Wood told the Secretary, "that 
when you and the President realize the 
effect of this on our future . . . , steps 
will be taken at once to see that the 
Army and Navy assume that the Philip- 

"Ltr, Secy War to CG Phil Dept, 27 Jul 22, cited in 
Ltr, Wood to Secy War, 5 Feb 23, JB 305, ser. 209. 



pine Islands must not only be abso- 
lutely defended but succored by the 
Fleet." And in words reminiscent of a 
later day he warned the Secretary that 
the American people would not stand 
for a policy that required "abandonment 
of American posts, American soldiers, 
an American fleet, American citizens in 
the Far East. . . ." 15 

Just how the fleet would come to the 
rescue of the Philippines in the event of 
war, Governor Wood did not specify, but 
he felt sure the planners in Washington 
could solve the problem. They had 
undoubtedly reached their conclusions, 
he observed sympathetically, when faced 
by seemingly impossible tasks. But 
American ingenuity was equal to any 
task, declared General Wood, and the 
planners "should be directed to keep 
alive that problem and work it out to 
show just what could be done to make 
it possible." And as a starting point, he 
recommended that the Navy take for its 
mission: "First, the relief of the Philip- 
pines and the establishment of its base 
in Manila as an essential preliminary to 
the accomplishment of our main objec- 
tive. . . . Second, the destruction of 
the Japanese fleet." 16 That the Navy 
would agree to so flagrant a violation of 
the first canon of naval strategy, that 
the primary mission of a fleet was always 
to destroy the enemy fleet, was, to say 
the least, doubtful. 

Whether as a result of Governor 
Wood's intervention or for other reasons, 
the final estimate presented to the Joint 
Board as a basis for the preparation of a 
war plan carefully skirted the question of 
the abandonment of the Philippines. A 
war with Japan, the Joint Planners now 

"Ltr, Wood to Secy War, 5 Feb 23, JB 305, ser. 209. 

declared, would be primarily naval in 
character and would require offensive 
sea and air operations against Japanese 
naval forces and vital sea communica- 
tions. The first concern of the Army and 
Navy in such a war, therefore, would be 
"to establish at the earliest possible date 
American sea power in the Western 
Pacific in strength superior to that of 
Japan." To accomplish this, the United 
States would require a base in that area 
capable of serving the entire U.S. Fleet. 
Since the only base west of Pearl Harbor 
large enough for this purpose was in 
Manila Bay, it would be essential, said 
the planners, to hold the bay in case of 
war and be ready to rush reinforcements, 
under naval protection, to the islands in 
time to prevent their capture. An addi- 
tional mission recommended by the plan- 
ners was the early capture of bases in the 
Japanese-mandated islands along the line 
of communications to the Philippines. 17 
Within two weeks the Joint Board had 
taken action. On 7 July 1923, General 
of the Armies John J. Pershing, senior 
member of the board, noted the board's 
agreement with the study made by the 
planners and recommended to the Secre- 
taries of War and Navy that it be 
approved as the basis for the preparation 
of a war plan. The Joint Board, 
Pershing told the Secretaries, had reached 
the following conclusions with regard to 
the Philippines: 

1. That the islands were of great strategic 
value to the United States for they provided 
the best available bases for military and 
naval forces operating in defense of Amer- 
ican interests in the Far East. 

"Memo, JPC to JB, 25 May 23, sub: Synopsis of the 
Joint Army and Navy Estimate of the Orange Situa- 
tion, JB 325, ser. 207. See also General Board 425, 
ser. 1 136, 26 Apr 23. 



2. That their capture by Japan would 
seriously affect American prestige and make 
offensive operations in the western Pacific 
extremely difficult. 

3. That the recapture of the islands would 
be a long and costly undertaking, requiring 
a far greater effort than timely measures for 

4. That the national interests and mili- 
tary necessity require that the Philippines 
be made as strong as possible in peacetime. 18 

With the Secretaries' approval, given 
three days later, work on Joint War Plan 
Orange moved forward rapidly. As a 
matter of fact, the planners had by this 
time already adopted the basic strategic 
concept to guide American forces in a 
war with Japan. Such a war, they fore- 
saw, would be primarily naval in charac- 
ter. The United States, in their view, 
should take the offensive and engage in 
operations "directed toward the isolation 
and harassment of Japan." These opera- 
tions they thought could be achieved by 
gaining control of Japan's vital sea com- 
munications and by offensive air and 
naval operations against Japan's naval 
forces and economic life. If these meas- 
ures alone did not bring Japan to her 
knees, then the planners would take 
"such further action as may be required 
to win the war." The major role in a 
war fought as the planners envisaged it 
would be played by the Navy, To the 
Army would fall the vital task of holding 
the base in Manila Bay until the arrival 
of the fleet. Without it, the fleet would 
be unable to operate in Far Eastern 

The concept of "an offensive war, 
primarily naval" was firmly embodied in 
the plan finally evolved. From it stemmed 

"Memo, Pershing to Secy War, 7 Jul 2g, sub: 
Defense of Phil, JB 305, ser. 208. A similar memoran- 
dum went to the Secretary of the Navy. 

the emphasis placed on sea power and 
a naval base in the Philippines. The first 
concern of the United States in a war 
with Japan and the initial mission of the 
Army and Navy, declared the Joint Plan- 
ners, would be to establish sea power in 
the western Pacific "in strength superior 
to that of Japan." This, they recognized, 
would require a "main outlying base" in 
that region. Manila Bay, it was acknowl- 
edged, best met the requirements for 
such a base and its retention would be 
essential in the event of hostilities. Thus, 
the primary mission of the Philippine 
Department in the Orange plan was to 
hold Manila Bay. 19 

One notable aspect of the Orange 
plan was its provision for a unified com- 
mand and a joint staff. Normal practice 
dictated separate Army and Navy com- 
manders, acting under the principle of 
co-operation in joint operations. But the 
planners had come to the conclusion that 
such operations required "that all Army 
and Navy forces . . . form one command 
and that its commander have the whole 
responsibility and full power." 20 They 
therefore included in the plan provision 
for a single commander, to be designated 
by the President and to have full power 
commensurate with his responsibility. 

In making this proposal the planners 
were far ahead of their time. Neither of 
the services was ready to operate in this 
way and there was as yet no doctrine or 
set of principles to guide commanders 
with such wide authority. The Joint 
Board, therefore, though it accepted 
without question most of the provisions 
of the Orange plan submitted by the 
Joint Planning Committee, returned 

"Draft, Joint Army-Navy Basic War Plan Orange, 
12 Mar 24, JB 325, ser. 228. 



that portion dealing with command. 
The planners, the board instructed, 
were to eliminate the objectionable 
paragraphs. 21 

Surprisingly enough, the planners 
balked at these instructions and tried 
once more to convince their superiors of 
the necessity for unity of command. The 
plan, they pointed out, was the product 
of over three years of intensive study 
during which the problem of command 
in joint operations had been considered 
carefully and from every viewpoint. On 
the basis of their exhaustive study of the 
subject, the planners told the Joint 
Board, they could not recommend that 
operations on so large a scale and of such 
grave importance as those contemplated 
in the Orange plan "could be entrusted 
to co-operation alone." 22 

This stand availed the committee lit- 
tle for the Joint Board returned the plan 
again, this time with a more strongly 
worded injunction to remove the offend- 
ing references to unity of command. 23 
The planners had no choice now but to 
make the required changes. Striking out 
all references to unity of command and 
a supreme commander and substituting 
the familiar formulas of "mutual co- 
operation" and "paramount interest," 
they resubmitted the plan on 16 July. 
This the board accepted and on its rec- 
ommendation the Secretary of War and 
the Secretary of the Navy gave their 
formal approval. 24 

21 Ltr, Secy JB to JPC, 7 Jun 24, JB 325, ser. 228. 

H Ltr, Col John L. De Witt, and Capt William H. 
Standley (USN) to JB, 20 Jun 24, sub: Joint Army- 
Navy Basic War Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 228. 

23 Memo, Secy JB to JPC, 10 Jul 24, sub: Joint 
Army-Navy War Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 228. 

"Ltrs, Col Walter Krueger and Standley, 16 Jul 24; 
Rear Adm Edward W. Eberle, JB to Secy War, 15 
Aug 24, sub: Joint Army-Navy Basic War Plan 
Orange, JB 325, ser. 228. 

The final approval of War Plan 
Orange in September 1924 gave the 
United States for the first time since the 
end of World War I a broad outline of 
operations and objectives in the event of 
war with Japan. But the plan was really 
more a statement of hopes than a real- 
istic appraisal of what could be done. 
To have carried out such a plan in 1925 
was far beyond the capabilities of either 
service. The entire military establish- 
ment in the Philippines did not then 
number more than 15,000 men. The 
50,000 men who, according to the plan, 
were to sail for the Philippines from the 
west coast on the outbreak of war, repre- 
sented more than one third the total 
strength of the Army. Moreover, naval 
facilities in Manila Bay were entirely 
inadequate to support the fleet. The 
station at Cavite along the south shore 
of the bay had been largely neglected by 
the Navy and the facilities at Olongapo 
in Subic Bay dated from the early years 
of the century. Neither was capable of 
providing more than minor repairs. 
Only at Pearl Harbor, 5,000 miles to the 
east, was there a base even partially capa- 
ble of servicing the major surface units 
of the Battle Fleet. 

The advantages of distance and loca- 
tion, which gave the Philippines their 
strategic importance, were all on the 
side of the Japanese. Japan's southern- 
most naval bases were less than 1,500 
miles from the Philippines, and Formosa 
was only half that distance away. An 
expeditionary force from Japan could 
reach Manila in three days; one mounted 
from Formosa on the Ryukyus could 
make the journey in a much shorter time. 
An American force, even assuming it 
reached the Philippines safely in record 
time, would require several weeks for the 



journey. By that time, the Japanese flag 
might be waving over Manila and the 
U.S. Fleet with its bunkers depleted 
would be "forced to fight under the most 
disadvantageous conditions or to beat an 
ignominious retreat." 25 


The Orange plan was based on a situ- 
ation that never came to pass, that is, a 
war between the United States and Japan 
alone. Neither side, the planners as- 
sumed, would have allies or attack the 
territory of a third power. The Orange 
war, as envisaged by the planners, was a 
war that was to be fought entirely in the 
Pacific, with the decisive action to take 
place in the waters off the Asiatic coast. 

These assumptions by the military 
strategists of the Army and Navy were 
entirely justified by the existing inter- 
national situation and reflected a reason- 
able estimate of the most probable threat 
to American interests, an estimate that 
was shared by most responsible officials 
during these years. But the planners did 
not, indeed could not, ignore other possi- 
bilities, no matter how remote. Thus, 
during the same years in which they 
labored on Orange, the Joint Board 
Planners considered a variety of other 
contingencies that might require the use 
of American military forces. The most 
serious if not the most likely of these 
was a war with Great Britain alone 
(Red) arising from commercial rivalry 
between the two nations, or with Great 
Britain and Japan (Red-Orange) . The 
latter contingency was conceded by all 

"Hector Bywater, Sea Power in the Pacific: A 
Study of the American-Japanese Naval Problem 
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921), pp. 

to present the gravest threat to Ameri- 
can security, one that would require a 
full-scale mobilization and the greatest 
military effort. 

In their study of these two contingen- 
cies the military planners came to grips 
with strategic problems quite different 
from those presented by Orange. A war 
with Japan would be primarily a naval 
war fought in the Pacific. So far as any- 
one could foresee, there would be no 
requirement for large ground armies. 
There was a possibility, of course, that 
Japan would attack the Panama Canal, 
Hawaii, and even the west coast, but no 
real danger that Japan could seize and 
occupy any of these places. But in the 
unlikely event of a conflict between 
Great Britain and the United States, 
there was a real possibility of invasion of 
the United States as well as attacks 
against the Canal and American interests 
in the Caribbean area. In such a war, 
the major threat clearly would lie in the 
Atlantic. Plans developed to meet this 
remote danger, in contrast to Orange, 
called for the immediate deployment of 
the bulk of the U.S. Fleet to the Atlantic 
and large-scale ground operations, defen- 
sive in nature, to deprive the enemy of 
bases in the Western Hemisphere. As in 
Orange, it was assumed that neither side 
would have allies among the great powers 
of Europe and Asia, and no plans were 
made for an invasion of the enemy's 
homeland by an American expeditionary 
force. This was to be a limited war in 
which the United States would adopt a 
strategic defensive with the object of 
frustrating the enemy's assumed objec- 
tive in opening hostilities. 

The problems presented by a Red- 
Orange coalition, though highly theo- 
retical, were more complicated. Here 



the American strategists had to face all 
the possibilities of an Orange and a Red 
war — seizure of American possessions in 
the western Pacific, violation of the Mon- 
roe Doctrine, attacks on the Panama 
Canal, Hawaii, and other places, and, 
finally, the invasion of the United States 
itself. Basically, the problem was to 
prepare for a war in both oceans against 
the two great naval powers, Great Britain 
and Japan. 

As the planners viewed this problem, 
the strategic choices open to the United 
States were limited. Certainly the United 
States did not have the naval strength 
to conduct offensive operations simul- 
taneously in both the Atlantic and Pacific 
Oceans; it must adopt a strategic de- 
fensive on both fronts or else assume the 
strategic offensive in one theater while 
standing on the defensive in the other. 
The recommended solution to this prob- 
lem — and it was only a recommended 
solution, for no joint war plan was ever 
adopted — was "to concentrate on obtain- 
ing a favorable decision" in the Atlantic 
and to stand on the defensive in the Paci- 
fic with minimum forces. This solution 
was based on the assumption that since 
the Atlantic enemy was the stronger 
and since the vital areas of the United 
States were located in the northeast, the 
main effort of the hostile coalition would 
be made there. For this reason, the ini- 
tial effort of the United States, the plan- 
ners argued, should be in the Atlantic. 

A strategic offensive-defensive in a two- 
front war, American strategists recog- 
nized, entailed serious disadvantages. It 
gave the hostile coalition freedom of 
action to attack at points of its own 
choosing, compelled the United States 
to be prepared to meet attacks practi- 
cally everywhere, exposed all U.S. over- 

seas possessions to capture, and imposed 
on the American people a restraint 
inconsistent with their traditions and 
spirit. Also, it involved serious and hu- 
miliating defeats in the Pacific during 
the first phase of the war and the almost 
certain loss of outlying possessions in 
that region. 

But the strategic offensive-defensive 
had definite advantages. It enabled the 
United States to conduct operations in 
close proximity to its home bases and 
to force the enemy to fight at great dis- 
tance from his own home bases at the 
end of a long line of communications. 
Moreover, the forces raised in the process 
of producing a favorable decision in the 
Atlantic would give the United States 
such a superiority that Japan might well 
negotiate rather than fight the United 
States alone. "It is not unreasonable to 
hope," the planners observed, "that the 
situation at the end of the struggle with 
Red may be such as to induce Orange 
to yield rather than face a war carried to 
the Western Pacific." 26 

The strategic concept adopted deter- 
mined the missions, theaters of opera- 
tion, and major tasks of U.S. forces. The 
Navy's main task, in the event of a simul- 
taneous attack in both oceans would be 
to gain control of the North Atlantic and 
to cut the enemy's line of communica- 
tions to possible bases in the New World, 
in Canada and the Caribbean; the 
Army's task would be to capture these 
bases, thus denying Britain the oppor- 
tunity to launch attacks against the 
United States. The principal theater of 

211 Proposed Joint Estimate and Plan — Rf.d-Orance, 
prepared in WPD (Army) and approved by CofS, 3 
June iggo, as basis for joint plan, G-g Obsolete Plans 
Reg Doc 245-C. Additional material on Red-Orancf. 
may be found in the same file, 245— A through F and 
in WPD 3202. No joint plan was ever approved. 



operations in a Red-Orange war, assum- 
ing Canada would side with Britain, 
would be, for the Navy, the Western 
North Atlantic, the Caribbean and West 
Indian waters; for the Army, those areas 
that could be used by Red or Orange to 
launch an invasion. Operations in the 
main theater would eventually bring 
about the defeat of enemy forces in North 
America, the economic exhaustion but 
not the total defeat of Great Britain, and 
finally a negotiated peace with Japan on 
terms favorable to the United States. 

This plan for a Red-Orange war was 
admittedly unrealistic in terms of the 
international situation during the 1920's 
and 1930's. The military planners knew 
this as well as and better than most and 
often noted this fact in the draft plans 
they wrote. 27 But as a strategic exercise 
it was of great value, for it forced the 
military planners to consider seriously 
the problems presented by a war in 
which the United States would have to 
fight simultaneously in the Atlantic and 
Pacific Oceans. In an era when most 
war planning was focused on the Pacific 
and when Japan seemed the most likely 
enemy, this experience may have seemed 
irrelevent. But it was to prove im- 
mensely useful in the plans developed 
for World War II. 

Strategic Dilemma 

Between 1924 and 1938 the Orange 
plan was revised many times in response 
to changes in the international situation, 

41 In 1923, the Army draft of Red-Orange started 
with the statement, "Under existing conditions a 
coalition of Red and Orance is unlikely," and twelve 
years later the Director of Naval Intelligence, com- 
menting on another draft plan, stated that a Red- 
Orance combination was "highly improbable" in the 
next decade, if at all. Array Draft Red-Orange, 1923, 

the mood of Congress, and military ne- 
cessity. And with each change the gap 
between American commitment to the 
defense of the Philippines and the forces 
the United States was willing to commit 
to this defense became wider. By 1938 
the dichotomy between national policy 
and military strategy in the Far East had 
made the task of the planners charged 
with the defense of America's position in 
that region all but impossible. 

The first revision of Orange came in 
November 1926 and was designed to cor- 
rect ambiguities in the original plan and 
to clear up the confusion in regard to 
timing and forces. This was done by 
designating M-day, the date on which a 
general mobilization would go into effect, 
as the starting point for the plan. On 
that day, the actions required to imple- 
ment the plan would begin, and from 
that day were measured the phases speci- 
fied in the plan. 

The 1926 plan clearly specified Hawaii 
as the point of assembly for troops and 
supplies. Convoys were to be formed 
there for the journey westward. But the 
assumption of the earlier plan that rein- 
forcements would sail directly to the 
Philippines — a doubtful assumption — 
was dropped in the 1926 plan. The Mar- 
shall, Caroline, and Mariana Islands, it 
was recognized, would have to be brought 
under American control first, and bases 
established in one or more of these 
island groups to guard the line of 
communications. 28 

Reg Doc 245-F; Ltr, Dir ONI to Dir WPD, 27 Jun 
35, sub: Jt Estimate of Situation, Red-Orange, copy 
in WPD 3202. By 1935, planning for such a war had 
virtually ended. 

a Joint Army-Navy Basic War Plan Orange, 6 Oct 
26; Ltr, JPC to JB, 1 1 Oct 26, sub: Revision of Plan 
Orange; Mins, JB Mtg, 14 Oct 26, all in JB 325, ser. 



Not satisfied with these changes, the 
planners proposed additional revisions 
in November of 1926, with the result 
that the Joint Board directed the prepara- 
tion of an entirely new plan. 29 A differ- 
ence of opinion became apparent almost 
immediately as the planners searched for 
a strategic formula that would produce 
victory in a war with Japan. One group 
argued for a strategic offensive in the 
western Pacific as the only way to exert 
sufficient pressure on Japan to win the 
war, and the other for a strategic defense, 
that is, the retention of the bulk of 
America's naval strength east of Hawaii, 
as the preferable course. 

The advocates of the defensive hoped 
to gain victory over Japan by economic 
pressure and raids on Japanese com- 
merce, but conceded that this strategy 
would expose the Philippines, Guam, 
and Samoa to attack and would probably 
cut off trade to the Far East. The strength 
of a defensive strategy, it was argued, lay 
in the fact that it would make the west 
coast and Hawaii "impregnable against 
attack," would cause little interference 
in the economy of the United States, "and 
would still permit our government to 
employ the political and industrial power 
and the great wealth of the country in an 
attempt to cut off Japanese world mar- 
kets to both export and import." 30 
Faced with this choice of strategies, the 
Joint Board elected the former and on 26 
January 1938 directed the planners to 
prepare a plan based on the concept of a 
strategic offensive. 31 

M Ltr, JPC to JB, 26 Nov 26, sub: Revision of 
Orange, JB 325, ser. 280. 

a "Ltr, JPC to JB, 9 Jan 28, sub: Joint Estimate of 
Situation Blue-ORANCE, and Joint Army-Navy War 
Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 280. 

"Memo, JB for JPC, 26 Jan 28, sub: Joint Army- 
Navy Basic War Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 280. 

Within three months, the new plan was 
completed. Though it retained the orig- 
inal concept of a naval advance across the 
Pacific, it allowed more time to assemble 
reinforcements and paid more attention 
to securing the line of communications. 
Forces in the Philippines were assigned 
the primary mission of holding the en- 
trance to Manila Bay (Bataan and Cor- 
regidor) , and the secondary mission of 
holding the bay area "as long as consistent 
with the successful accomplishment of 
the primary mission." 32 

That there was even then little expec- 
tation that the Philippines could be held 
is evident in the Army's estimate of the 
enemy's capacities as compared to its own. 
Japan, it noted, could raise and transport 
to the Philippines a force of 300,000 men 
in 30 days. Within 7 days of an attack, 
it could have 50,000 to 60,000 men off 
Luzon, within 15 another 100,000. The 
Americans would have to meet this at- 
tack with the forces then present in the 
Philippines: 1 1,000 troops of which 7,000 
were Filipinos, a native constabulary 
numbering about 6,000 men, and an air 
component consisting of nine bombers 
and eleven pursuit planes. So great a 
discrepancy made any hope for a success- 
ful defense mere illusion. The best that 
could be hoped for under such circum- 
stances was a delaying action that might 
buy enough- time for the fleet to arrive 
with reinforcements. 

The move to grant the Philippines 
their independence, which was finding 
increasing support among the American 
people and in Congress in the early 

™ Joint Basic War Plan Orange, 24 Apr 28, JB 325, 
ser. 280. Other papers relating to the plan are in the 
same file. The plan was approved by the Secretary of 
the Navy on 19 June 1928, and by the Secretary of 
War on 10 July. 



lggo's, complicated enormously the prob- 
lems of Pacific strategy and precipitated 
a number of reviews and studies by the 
planners of the effect of such a step. The 
conclusion of these studies was that the 
islands represented a powerful military 
asset to the United States and that their 
retention was necessary to support Amer- 
ican policy in the Far East. The with- 
drawal of the United States from these 
islands, asserted the joint planners, would 
upset the balance of power in the Far 
East, give Japan a free hand in the west- 
ern Pacific, and force the abandonment of 
the open-door policy. Though inade- 
quately defended and far removed from 
the nearest American base in Hawaii, the 
Philippines were, in the opinion of the 
Washington planners, of great strategic 
importance, indispensable in a war 
against Japan. "We should relinquish 
our bases," they concluded, "only when 
we are prepared to relinquish our posi- 
tion as a nation of major influence in 
the affairs of Asia and the Western 
Pacific." 33 

From the Philippines came a strong 
dissenting voice. To the officers stationed 
in the islands, the plan to hold out against 
a powerful Japanese attack until rein- 
forcements arrived seemed nothing less 
than self-delusion. "To carry out the 
present Orange plan," wrote the com- 
mander of the Corregidor defenses, "with 
its provisions for the early dispatch of 
our fleet to Philippine waters, would be 
literally an act of madness." 34 Corregi- 
dor, he admitted, could probably hold 
out for about a year and thus deny Japan 

"Ltr, JPC to JB, sub: Independence o£ Phil Is, 
28 Feb 34, JB 305, ser. 525. See also JB 305, ser. 4gg 
for earlier views. 

"Memo, Brig Gen Stanley D. Embick for CG Phil 
Dept, 19 Apr 33, sub: Mil Policy of U.S. in Phil Is, 
and 1st Ind, Hq Phil Dept. 25 Apr 33, WPD 3251-15. 

the use of Manila Bay. But the enemy 
could reach Manila from the land side 
and deny the U.S. Fleet a sheltered har- 
bor in which to overhaul and repair 
major fleet units. It would be necessary, 
therefore, for the fleet to seize and de- 
velop bases as it moved across the Pacific, 
and this process, he estimated, would take 
two or three years. Certainly the small 
garrison in the Philippines could not 
resist that long. Unless the American 
people were willing to spend large sums 
for the defense of the islands — and there 
was in 1933 not the slightest hope that 
they would — the Corregidor commander 
and his superior, the commander of the 
Philippine Department, both advised 
that the United States arrange for the 
neutralization of the Philippines, with- 
draw its forces from the Far East, and 
adopt the line Alaska-Oahu-Panama as 
the "strategic peacetime frontier in the 

The planners in Washington, what- 
ever their personal convictions may have 
been, did not accept this view. Indeed, 
they could not, for national policy dic- 
tated that the Philippines must be de- 
fended, no matter how hopeless the 
assignment seemed to those responsible 
for its defense. The withdrawal of 
United States forces from the Philippines 
and from China was a political ques- 
tion and the decision rested with the 
President and Congress. 

From the military point of view, the 
Army planners in Washington found the 
assumptions of the Philippine command- 
ers unwarranted. The field commanders, 
they maintained, had stressed the concept 
of an offensive in the western Pacific, 
but the plan did not require the immedi- 
ate advance of the fleet westward "unless 
the situation existing . . . justifies such 



action." 35 Instead, the fleet would ad- 
vance step by step through the mandates, 
taking such islands as it needed and con- 
structing advance bases before moving 
on. It was just this course, the Army 
planners pointed out, that the Navy now 

To the Washington experts the idea 
that the Philippines could be neutralized 
by agreement with other powers was 
completely unrealistic. They thought it 
"highly improbable of attainment," at 
least so long as the United States re- 
tained military and naval .bases in the 
islands. When the Philippines became 
fully independent, it might be possible 
to follow this course, provided that the 
United States withdrew all of its forces. 

The Army planners in Washington 
dismissed also the fear that Japan would 
attack the United States in the near fu- 
ture. In their view, Japan was too 
dependent upon trade with the United 
States to risk a war that would place all 
her gains on the Asiatic mainland in 
jeopardy. "Only by adoption on the part 
of the United States of a policy of armed 
intervention," they concluded, "would 
Orange be justified in bringing on a 
war." 36 

In March 1934, when the Tydings- 
McDuffie act granting the Philippines 
their independence by 1946 was passed, 
the Army and Navy commanders in the 
Philippines reopened the question of 
American strategy in the Far East. In a 
joint letter to their respective chiefs the 
two commanders asserted that, in view 
of the reductions in military and naval 
strength in the Philippines, they could 

"Memo, Chief, WPD for CofS, la Jun 33, sub: Mil 
Policy of U.S. in Phil Is, WPD 3251-15. 
m lbid. 

not carry out their missions under the 
Orange plan. The "spectacular rise" of 
Japan as a military power, together with 
the improvement of military aviation, 
and increases in the speed and armament 
of surface vessels, nullified, in their 
judgment, the value of Manila Bay as a 
base. The time had come, it seemed to 
them, to make a decision on American 
policy. If the United States intended to 
defend the islands — and their defense 
was basic to the Orange plan — even after 
they were granted independence, then 
naval and land forces would have to be 
increased, those treaties prohibiting its 
fortification abrogated, and a base ade- 
quate for maintaining the fleet con- 
structed. If the United States intended 
to withdraw and relinquish its control 
over the Philippines and responsibility 
for their defense, then, said the two com- 
manders, only such American forces as 
would be needed to maintain order dur- 
ing the transition period should be kept 
in the islands. 37 

The decision of the Joint Board settled 
none of the questions raised by the Asi- 
atic Fleet and Philippine Department 
commanders. National policy was not 
within its province and it could only as- 
sert that the Philippines would be de- 
fended and that reinforcements would 
be forthcoming, as planned in Orange, 
in the event of war. The board was for- 
tified in this view by the Army planners 
who felt that the existing force in the 
Philippines was large enough to give 
"reasonable assurance" that Manila Bay 
could be held, and by the belief of the 
naval planners that reinforcements could 

"Ltr, CinC Asiatic Fleet and CG Phil Dept to CNO 
and CofS, 1 Mar 34, sub: Inadequacy of Present Mil 
and Naval Forces in Phil Area . . . , JB 325, ser. 533. 



be convoyed across the Pacific in time to 
avert disaster. 38 

Hardly had this decision been made 
when the Orange plan came under scru- 
tiny again. This time it was General 
Douglas MacArthur, then Chief of Staff, 
who called for its revision to bring it 
into conformity with the new mobiliza- 
tion plan and the 4-army organization 
of the field forces. These changes did 
not affect the basic concept of the plan, 
but during the discussions the Navy 
planners proposed a new line of action, 
foreshadowed in 1928, calling for an ad- 
vance in progressive stages across the 
Pacific through the mandated islands, 
seizing in turn the Marshalls and Caro- 
lines and developing there the bases 
needed to secure the line of communica- 
tions to the western Pacific. The Ma- 
rine and Army troops to carry out these 
operations were to sail from the west 
coast in echelons, the first leaving for the 
Marshalls twelve days after M-day. In- 
corporated into the 1935 revision of the 
Orange plan, this concept underscored 
the importance of holding Manila Bay 
to provide a base for the fleet when it 
finally fought its way through with 
reinforcements. 39 

Despite the careful plans to hold the 
Philippines in case of a Japanese attack, 
the view that the islands could not be 
held and that it would take several years 
to establish naval superiority in the 
western Pacific spread rapidly among the 

38 Memo, Brig Gen C. R. Kilbourne for Army Mem- 
bers, JPC, 1 May 34, sub: Mil Policy in Phil Is, WPD 
3251-18; Ltr, JB to Secy War, 20 Jun 34, sub: Inade- 
quacy of Present Mil and Naval Forces . . . , JB 325, 
ser. 533. 

^Ltrs, MacArthur to JB, 18 Jun 35; JPC to JB, S3 
Apr 35; JB to Secy War, 8 May 35, all titled Revision 
of Joint Army-Navy Basic War Plan Orange and 
filed in JB 325, ser. 546. The Secretaries of War and 
Navy approved the revised plan on 9 May 1935. 

Army planners. Japan had revealed its 
expansionist aims in Manchuria and in 
China, had placed a veil of secrecy over 
the mandated islands, withdrawn from 
the League of Nations and from the 
naval limitations agreements of ig22 and 
1930, and was rapidly building up its 
military strength and naval forces. The 
situation in Europe was threatening, too, 
with Hitler and Mussolini beginning to 
test their new found strength. Under 
the circumstances, the Philippine Islands 
might well prove a liability, draining off 
the forces needed to defend Hawaii, the 
Panama Canal, and the continental 
United States. 

In recognition of the growing threat 
in Europe and the Far East, the Secre- 
taries of the War and Navy Departments 
in the fall of 1935 called upon the Joint 
Board to re-examine America's military 
position in the Far East. At the same 
time, they asked Secretary of State Cor- 
del Hull to designate a State Department 
representative to meet with the board. 
How seriously the Secretaries regarded 
the situation may be judged by their 
note to Hull. "The cumulative efforts 
of successive developments during the 
past two decades have so weakened our 
military position vis-a-vis Japan," they 
wrote, "that our position in the Far East 
is one that may result not only in our 
being forced into war but into a war that 
would have to be fought under condi- 
tions that might preclude its successful 
prosecution." 40 

The Secretaries' action set off another 
round of discussions over strategy that 

M Ltr, Actg Secy War and Secy Navy to Secy State, 
26 Nov 35, JB 305, ser. 573. Stanley K. Hornbeck, 
Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, was ap- 
pointed the State Department representative. Ltr, 
Hull to Woodring, 37 Nov 35, same file. 



General MacArthur 

ended in one more revision of Orange. 
The case for the Army planners was sum- 
marized by Brig. Gen. Stanley D. Em- 
bick, Chief of the War Plans Division 
and long associated with the Philippines 
and Pacific strategy. Reliance on a base 
that was inadequately defended, he ob- 
served, was to invite disaster. American 
strategy in the Pacific, he insisted, should 
concentrate on holding the strategic tri- 
angle, Alaska-Hawaii-Panama. Such a 
course would place the United States in 
an invulnerable position and permit its 
military and naval forces to conduct 
operations "in such a manner that will 
promise success instead of national 
disaster." 41 

The naval planners were of a different 
opinion. All their plans were based on 

"App. A to Memo initialed S.D.E., 2 Dec 35, sub: 
Mil Aspects of . . . Retention of U.S. of . . . Phil Is, JB 
305, ser. 573. 

the use of the fleet in offensive operations 
west of Hawaii, and the acceptance of 
the strategic triangle would leave the 
Navy with little to do other than patrol 
the critical area and fend off an enemy 

These differences were fundamental 
and the planners, unable to reach agree- 
ment, submitted separate reports. The 
Army members recommended that, when 
the Philippines became independent, the 
United States should withdraw entirely 
from the islands and from China; the 
Navy members, that no decision on 
America's future military policy in the 
Far East should be made at this time but 
should await a complete re-examination 
of the Orange plan. 

This was hardly an acceptable basis 
for decision by the Joint Board, and 
again they referred the problem to their 
planners. This time the planners agreed 
by avoiding the issue, and in May 1936 
submitted a revision of Orange which 
restricted the mission of the Philippine 
garrison to holding the entrance to Ma- 
nila Bay, that is, Corregidor and its 
neighboring islands. Up to that time it 
had been required to hold the Manila 
Bay area as long as possible. The naval 
concept of a progressive movement 
through the mandates remained 

Though the Army planners had failed 
to win their point, their efforts did result 
in a review of the Hawaiian defenses and 
to an emphasis on their importance in 
the revised Orange plan. The mission 
of the Hawaiian garrison was stated sim- 
ply: to hold Oahu "as a main outlying 
naval base," and provision was made for 
a defense reserve for seventy days, the 
maximum time required for the fleet to 
reach Hawaiian waters. Prophetically, 



the plan recognized the danger of a sur- 
prise raid and pointed out that a success- 
ful defense would depend "almost wholly 
upon our not being totally surprised by 
the enemy," and would "require an ef- 
ficient intelligence service, not only in 
the Hawaiian Islands but elsewhere." 42 
It was abundantly clear by now that 
the Philippine garrison would not be 
able to hold out until such time — vari- 
ously estimated at from two to three 
years — as the fleet could arrive with rein- 
forcements. This fact was never explicitly 
stated but, significantly, the Army's 1936 
Orange plan, unlike earlier plans, made 
no provision for reinforcements. The 
defense would have to be conducted by 
the peacetime garrison, a force of about 
10,000 men, plus the Philippine Army 
then being organized by General Mac- 
Arthur. 43 

The debate over Pacific and Far East 
strategy continued through 1936, when 
Japan joined Germany and Italy in the 
Anti-Comintern Pact, and into 1937. In 
the fall of that year, after Japan embarked 
on its war of aggression in China, the 
Joint Board again ordered a re-examina- 
tion of existing plans, which it considered 
"unsound in general" and "wholly inap- 
plicable" to the international situation. 
What it wanted from its planning com- 
mittee was a new Orange plan that 

"Memo, Kruegcr for CofS, etc, 14 Feb 36, sub: Mil 
and Naval Position in Far East, with Incls dated 6 
Feb and 5 Mar 36, JB 305, ser. 573; Ltr, JB to Secy 
War, ig May 36, sub: Revision of Joint Army and 
Navy Basic War Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 570; Ltrs, 
JPC to JB 13 May 26, sub: US Forces, Hawaiian Is, 
and JB to Secy War, 19 May 36, same sub, JB 325, ser. 
580; Ltr, JB to Secy War, g Dec 36, sub: Changes in 
Orange, JB 3215, ser. 594. 

"Army Strategical Plan Orange, 1936 Revision, JB 
325, sers. 546 and 325. For MacArthur's plans to 
build a Philippine Army, see Louis Morton, The 
Fall of the Philippines, UNITED STAT ES ARMY 
IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1953),! pp. 8-13. 

would provide for "a position of readi- 
ness" on the line Alaska-Hawaii-Panama 
— the so-called "strategic triangle." In 
addition, the planners were to make 
"exploratory studies and estimates" of 
the various courses of action to be fol- 
lowed after the position of readiness had 
been assumed. 44 

In less than two weeks the Joint Plan- 
ning Committee reported its inability to 
reach an agreement. The Army mem- 
bers, reading their instructions literally, 
wanted to restrict themselves to the area 
specified by the board and draw up a 
plan, defensive in nature, which would 
provide for the security of the conti- 
nental United States and the Pacific 
Ocean as far as Hawaii. A war plan, 
they reasoned, must take into account 
political and economic factors and it 
was impossible at this time to determine 
whether the United States would be 
willing to fight an unlimited war against 
Japan. With the European Axis clearly 
in mind they pointed out that political 
considerations might require limited 
action and purely defensive operations in 
the Pacific. Moreover, the forces avail- 
able at the outbreak of war would hardly 
be adequate for assuming the defense of 
vital areas in the Western Hemisphere. 
To uncover these positions for an offen- 
sive in the far Pacific, the Army planners 
declared, would be foolhardy indeed. 45 

The Navy members of the Joint Plan- 
ning Committee took the position that 
American strategy could not be limited 
to a purely defensive position of readi- 
ness but should aim at the defeat of the 

"Memos, JB for JPC, 10 Nov 37, sub: Joint Basic 
War Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 617; Embick to WPD, 
3 Nov 37, same sub. AGO 225. 

48 Draft Memo, Krueger, 22 Nov 37, sub: Some 
Thoughts on Joint War Plans, AGO 225. 



enemy. If it failed to do that, it was not, 
in the view of the naval planners, a real- 
istic guide for the services in time of 
war. 46 

Once war began, the Navy members 
argued, production would be quickly 
increased to provide the means required 
for both the security of the continental 
United States and for offensive opera- 
tions in the Pacific. While these forces 
were being assembled, the Navy was 
prepared to take the offensive beyond 
Hawaii into Japanese territory. Should 
the European Axis give aid to the enemy, 
the planners assumed that the United 
States would have allies to provide the 
assistance needed by the U.S. Fleet to 
maintain naval superiority over Japan 
and to permit the projection of Ameri- 
can naval power into the Western Pacific. 
"The character, amount, and location of 
allied assistance," they added, "cannot 
be predicted." 47 

The separate reports submitted by the 
Army and Navy members of the Joint 
Planning Committee put the choice be- 
tween the opposing strategies squarely 
up to the Joint Board. The board 
avoided this choice by issuing a new 
directive to the planners on 7 December 
1937. Suggested by the Chief of Naval 
Operations, Admiral William D. Leahy, 
this directive attempted to compromise 
the differing interpretations of the Army 
and Navy planners, but gave the edge to 
the latter. The new plan, the board now 
specified, should have as its basic objec- 
tive the defeat of Japan and should pro- 
vide for "an initial temporary position 

40 Ltrs, Army and Navy Members JPC to JB, 29 and 
30 Nov 37, sub: Joint Basic War Plan Orance, JB 
325, ser. 617. The Army plan is in Appendix A, the 
Navy's in Appendix B. 


General Embick, Chief, Army War 
Plans Division, 1935. 

in readiness" for the Pacific coast and the 
strategic triangle. This last, the board 
further directed, was to be the Army's 
job; the Navy's task would consist of 
"offensive operations against Orange 
armed forces and the interruption of 
Orange vital sea communications," 
Finally, the planners were to recommend 
the forces and materiel which would be 
required by each of the services to accom- 
plish its mission in the new plan.* 8 

Even under these revised instructions, 
the planners were unable to agree on the 
best way to protect American interests 
in the Pacific and Far East in the event 
of war with Japan. The Army planners, 
thinking possibly of the situation in 
Europe, wished to maintain a defense 
position east of the 180th meridian — the 

"Directive, JB to JPC, 7 Dec 37, sub: Joint Basic 
War Plan Orange, JB 325, ser. 618. 



outermost limits of the Hawaiian chain. 
Offensive operations to the west of that 
line, they believed, should be under- 
taken only when necessary and they only 
with the specific authorization of the 
President. Naval operations alone, they 
asserted, could not ensure the defeat of 
Japan and ultimately the maximum 
efforts of the two services would be 

Throughout their version of the plan, 
the Army planners emphasized the defen- 
sive mission of the Army to defend the 
United States and its possessions. Though 
they did not exclude the Philippines, 
neither did they provide for augmenting 
the forces there as they did for American 
territory east of the 180th meridian. The 
defense of the Islands would have to be 
conducted by the forces already assigned 
plus whatever additional troops were 
available locally. 49 

The naval planners, still offensive- 
minded so far as the Pacific was con- 
cerned, emphasized in their version of 
the plan operations designed to bring 
about the defeat of Japan. Thus, they 
made the destruction of Orange forces 
the primary mission of joint and separate 
Army and Navy forces. Nor did they 
place any limits on operations in the 
western Pacific, merely repeating the 
time-honored formula that victory would 
be won by establishing "at the earliest 
practicable date, U.S. naval power in the 
western Pacific in strength superior to 
that of Orange and to operate offen- 
sively in that area." 50 This preference 
for the offensive was clearly reflected in 
his testimony to the Senate Naval Affairs 
Committee the following February when 

a *Ltr, JPC to JB, 27 Dec 37, sub: Joint War Plan 
Orange, JB 325, ser. 618. 

Admiral Leahy asserted that "the only 
way that war, once begun, can be brought 
to a successful conclusion is by making 
the enemy want to stop fighting. . . . 
Prompt and effective injury to an enemy 
at a distance from our shores is the only 
correct strategy to be employed." 51 

Faced with another split report, the 
Joint Board turned over the task of 
working out a compromise to General 
Embick and Rear Adm. James O. 
Richardson. These two, after a month 
of discussion, finally submitted on 18 
February 1938 a new Orange plan. This 
plan embodied the essential points of 
each of the services with the result that 
its provisions were sometimes less than 
clear. In return for the Army's removal 
of the proviso that operations west of 
the Hawaiian Islands would require 
Presidential authorization, the Navy 
took out its references to an offensive 
war, the destruction of the Japanese 
forces, and the early movement of the 
fleet into the western Pacific. The result 
was a broad statement of strategy calling 
for "military and economic pressure," 
increasing in severity until "the national 
objective," the defeat of Japan, was 
attained. Initial operations under this 
concept were to be primarily naval but 
would be coupled with measures required 
to ensure the security of the continental 
United States, Alaska, Oahu, and 
Panama. 52 

Though each of the services retreated 
from its original position, each won rec- 
ognition of principles it held important. 

"Joint Committee on the Investigation of the 
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7gth Cong., 1st sess., Hearings, 
pt. I, p. 294. 

"Joint Basic War Plan Orange, 21 Feb 38, JB 325, 
ser. 618. The plan was approved by the Secretary of 
the Navy on 26 February and by the Secretary of War 
two days later. 



The Navy retained its concept of a pro- 
gressive advance across the Pacific, but 
avoided commitment on the time re- 
quired for such a move — an essential 
point in any plan for the defense of the 
Philippines. The Army, on its side, 
gained recognition of the primary impor- 
tance of the strategic triangle formed by 
Alaska, Oahu, and Panama to the defense 
of the United States. The earlier provi- 
sion for the defense of Manila Bay was 
retained, but the omission of any refer- 
ence to the reinforcement of the Philip- 
pine garrison or to the length of time 
it would take the fleet to advance across 
the Pacific was a tacit admission that the 
planners did not believe the position 
could be held. 

A war with Japan, the Orange plan 
of 1938 assumed, would be preceded by 
a period of strained relations, during 
which the United States would have time 
to prepare for mobilization. No formal 
declaration of war was expected; when 
war came the planners expected it to 
come with a sudden surprise attack — an 
assumption that had been made in every 
Orange plan since the Russo-Japanese 
war. They thought, too, that American 
forces at the start of the war would be 
strong enough to permit naval opera- 
tions west of Pearl Harbor, and that no 
assistance Japan could receive — presum- 
ably from Germany and Italy — would 
materially affect the balance of naval 
power in the Pacific. 

On the outbreak of a war, the United 
States would first assume a position of 
readiness to meet all emergencies that 
might arise, a point the Army planners 
had insisted upon. During this initial 
period, the Army and Navy would place 
priority on such measures as were re- 
quired to defend the west coast, the 

strategic triangle, the coastal defenses of 
the United States, and oversea posses- 
sions. At the same time, the Navy would 
make preparations, in co-operation with 
the Army, to open the offensive as soon 
as possible. 

The plan outlined also the specific 
measures that would have to be taken 
to support offensive operations. These 
included the following: 

1. Mobilization of Army forces, ini- 
tially 750,000 men, excluding strategic 
reserves ready if needed to support the 

2. Mobilization of naval vessels and 
an increase in personnel strength to 
320,000 (including marines) . 

3. An increase in the strength of the 
Marine Corps to 35,000 men. 

4. Additional increases in all services 
at a later date if necessary. 

5. Plans for the movement of troops 
to vital areas for their defense and to 
ports for overseas movement. 

Having assumed a position of readiness 
and completed initial preparations, the 
military and naval forces of the United 
States would then be free to meet any 
unexpected situation that might develop, 
including, presumably, an attack in the 
Atlantic. If none did, the Navy could 
then proceed to take the offensive against 
Japan with operations directed initially 
against the mandated islands and extend- 
ing progressively westward across the 
Pacific. These operations combined with 
economic pressure (blockade) would, it 
was believed, result in the defeat of 
Japan and a settlement that would assure 
the peace and safeguard American 
interests in the Far East. 53 

The prospective loss of the Philippine 




base in 1946 and the abrogation by 
Japan of the Washington Treaty limita- 
tions on fortifications led after 1936 to 
a renewed interest in Guam. The whole 
problem of naval bases came under Con- 
gressional scrutiny when a board headed 
by Rear Adm. Arthur J. Hepburn sub- 
mitted its report on naval bases in 
December 1938. The findings of the 
board, which had been appointed by 
Congress, reflected clearly the naval 
strategy of the day. Guam, it declared, 
should be developed into a fully equip- 
ped fleet base with air and submarine 
facilities. Such a project, it reminded 
the Congress, had been prepared earlier, 
but had been put aside because of the 
Washington Treaty. That treaty had 
now expired and there was no longer any 
restriction on the military fortification of 
Guam. 54 

The advantages of establishing a strong 
base at Guam were enormous, in the 
view of the board. For one thing, it 
would greatly simplify the task of defend- 
ing the Philippine Islands. In the opin- 
ion of "the most authoritative sources/' 
such a base would make the islands 
practically immune from attack, would 
create "the most favorable conditions 
. . . for the prosecution of naval opera- 
tions in the western Pacific," and would 
contribute greatly to the defense of 
Hawaii and the continental United 
States. 55 By limiting hostile naval opera- 
tions to the south, a fortified base at 
Guam would also serve to protect the 
trade routes to the Netherlands Indies 
and greatly simplify naval problems 

"House Doc. 65, 76th Cong., ist sess., Report on 
Need of Additional Naval Bases To Defend the 
Coast of the United States, Its Territories, and Pos- 
sessions (Hepburn Board Report), pp. 27-28. 

"Ibid., p. 28. 

"should the fleet ever be called upon 
for operations in the Far East." 58 And 
even if the United States withdrew from 
the western Pacific, the base at Guam, as 
Admiral Leahy pointed out, would have 
great value as a deterrent to any nation 
"contemplating a hostile move from the 
general area towards the Hawaiian 
Islands." 57 But Congress, after a heated 
debate, rejected the board's recommen- 
dations for fear of offending Japan, with 
the result that Guam, lying exposed at 
the southern end of the Marianas, was 
left virtually undefended. 

The failure to fortify Guam, like the 
refusal to strengthen the forces in the 
Philippines, reveals strikingly the dilem- 
ma of America's position in the Pacific 
and Far East. National policy dictated 
the defense of an insular position which, 
in the opinion of the military planners, 
could not be defended with existing 
forces. The Orange plan of 1938, with 
the compromise between an offensive 
and defensive strategy, was merely a 
reflection of this contradiction between 
American interests and commitments in 
the Pacific. The nation would not aban- 
don the Philippines but neither would 
it grant the Army and Navy funds to 
ensure their defense. Nowhere in the 
country, even where feeling against Japa- 
nese aggression in Asia ran highest, was 
there firm support for military appro- 
priations. Strong isolationist sentiment 
supported a Congressional economy 
which by 1938 had so reduced the effec- 
tiveness of the nation's armed forces as 
to make its outposts in the Pacific "a 
distinct and exceedingly grave liability." 
American policy had created a wide gap 

K Ibid., p. 27. 

CT Hearings, House Committee on Naval Affairs, 25 
Jan-i7Feb 1939, p. 55. 



between objectives and means and forced 
on its planners a compromise strategy 
and the virtual abandonment of Guam 
and the Philippines. Already there was 
a shift in sentiment, a recognition of the 

danger ahead, and a disposition to pre- 
pare the country's defenses, but the neg- 
lect of almost two decades could not be 
overcome in the three years of peace 
that remained. 


Japanese Policy and Strategy, 
1931 -July 1941 

It may even reasonably be said that the intensely sharp competitive 
preparation for war by the nation is the real war, permanent, increasing; 
and that battles are only a sort of public verification of mastery gained 
during the "peace" intervals. William James 

In the period between the two world 
wars, Japan sought to establish control 
first of east Asia and then of the south- 
west Pacific. After a decade of liberal 
ascendancy and acquiescence in the post- 
World War I agreements, the extremists 
in Japan gained power and embarked on 
a program of military preparation and 
territorial aggrandizement. First the 
Japanese moved into Manchuria and 
then into China, where they soon be- 
came involved in a war that dragged on 
interminably and from which they could 
extract neither victory nor honor. Hav- 
ing scrapped the Washington Treaty 
system, they withdrew from the League 
of Nations and from the naval disarma- 
ment system established in 1922 and 
1930. Gradually they moved toward a 
closer understanding with Germany and 
Italy, and, in 1940, turned south to the 
rich British, French, and Dutch colonies 
of southeast Asia in search of raw mate- 
rials they needed to carry on the war 
in China. 

The United States opposed all these 
moves as vigorously as circumstances per- 

mitted. Since the turn of the century, 
when it had annexed the Philippines, 
the United States had been inextricably 
drawn into the confused politics and 
imperialist rivalries of the Far East. 
Despite the nation's traditional prefer- 
ence for remaining aloof from world 
affairs, it was abundantly clear that 
America could not remain indifferent to 
any change in the status quo in the 
Pacific or in Asia. John Hay had defined 
America's position in China in 1899, and 
his statement — that there must be equal 
opportunity for trade, or an open door, 
in China — remained the keystone of 
American policy in the years that fol- 
lowed. It was inevitable, therefore, that 
the United States would challenge the 
efforts of any power to gain a dominant 
position on the mainland of Asia. 

America's opposition to Japanese ex- 
pansion in Asia, its insistence on the 
open-door policy and the integrity of 
China, led to mutual distrust and sus- 
picion. No Japanese government could 
accept America's solution for the deep- 
ening crisis and remain in power; nor 



would the United States accede under 
any conditions to the dismemberment 
of China. There was no escape from this 
dilemma and by mid- 1941, despite the 
utmost efforts of men of good will on 
both sides of the Pacific, Japan was mov- 
ing rapidly down the road that led to 
Pearl Harbor. 

Japanese Expansion 

The impulse to expansion and domi- 
nation of East Asia had its roots deep in 
Japanese tradition, patriotism, and eco- 
nomic necessity; its strongest support 
came from the militarists and extreme 
nationalists. In marked contrast to the 
position of the armed forces in demo- 
cratic countries, the Army in Japan had 
a tradition of political leadership and 
enjoyed a position high in the esteem of 
the people. It was not, as in the United 
States and Great Britain, the servant of 
the government, controlled through re- 
sponsible civil officials and by the power 
of appropriation. Under the Japanese 
Constitution the Emperor commanded 
the Army and Navy, and the Diet had 
little control over the organization of 
the military forces. 1 

Military control in prewar Japan was 
exercised by the War and Navy Minis- 
ters and the General Staffs of the Army 
and Navy, not by the civil government. 
The services were in a peculiarly inde- 
pendent position. The War and Navy 
Ministers, though members of the Cabi- 
net, could go over the head of the Pre- 
mier and appeal directly to the throne 
in military or naval matters of great 

1 Under Articles n, 12, and 62 of the Japanese Con- 
stitution, the Diet had partial control of the budget 
and this gave it some leverage over the military. 

importance. Moreover, they could, by 
resigning from the Cabinet, force the 
resignation of the Premier and the for- 
mation of a new government, for under 
the Constitution, no Cabinet could exist 
without the War and Navy Ministers. 

An even more significant aspect of the 
relationship of the services to the govern- 
ment of prewar Japan was the control of 
the Army and Navy over their respective 
Ministers. By custom, and after 1936 by 
law, the War and Navy Ministers were 
chosen from among the senior officers 
(3 -star officers or higher) on the active 
list. Thus, the Army selected the Minis- 
ter, who, if not himself a member of the 
General Staff, was almost certain to reflect 
its views. Opposition of the civil authori- 
ties could be quickly overcome by the 
threat of withdrawing the service Minis- 
ters from the Cabinet. The Chiefs of 
the General Staffs had the right also to 
report directly to the Emperor and had 
considerable freedom of action. So great 
was their prestige and influence in politi- 
cal matters and so unlimited their ability 
for independent action, that they could 
virtually commit the government to a 
course of action, and the nation to war. 2 
Despite the enormous power and 
prestige of the Army, the liberal and 
moderate elements in Japan were not 
without influence. The decade of the 
ig2o's was theirs and during these years 
Japan followed a moderate course. This 

J E. E. N. Causton, Militarism and Foreign Policy 
in Japan (London: G. Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1936), 
pp. 75-82; R. K. Reischauer, Japan, Government and 
Politics (New York: Ronald Press Company, 1939). 
pp. 90-93. For a general description of the Japanese 
high command, see Yale Candee Maxon, Control of 
Japanese Foreign Policy: A Study of Civil-Military 
Rivalry, 1930—1945 (Berkeley: University of Califor- 
nia Press, 1957). 



course was based on the belief that the 
limits of profitable armed expansion had 
been reached and that the future of the 
nation lay in peaceful economic expan- 
sion and co-operation with the United 
States and Great Britain. It was this 
view that made possible the signing of 
the Washington Treaties in 1921-22, 
which established the status quo in the 
Pacific, recognized the sovereignty and 
territorial integrity of China, forbade 
additional fortification of certain islands 
in the Pacific, and limited capital ship 

As the decade of the ig2o's came to 
an end, the popular discontent arising 
from the poverty and despair of world- 
wide depression was channeled into na- 
tional and fascist movements. American 
exclusion of Japanese immigrants in 
1924, although balanced by generous and 
ready sympathy during the Tokyo earth- 
quake, had strengthened the hand of the 
discontented. Further, the acceptance 
by the liberal government in 1930 of 
the extension of naval limitation to 
cruisers, destroyers, and submarines pro- 
vided the advocates of expansion with 
strong arguments for scrapping the 
entire Washington Treaty system, as 
well as the pretext for the assassination 
of the Premier. Nationalist groups read- 
ily joined forces with the supporters of 
the Army and the extreme right to de- 
mand a reversal of the liberal program 
and a return to the policy of expansion. 

Events in China gave strong support 
for the aggressive policy urged by the 
expansionists. Under Chiang Kai-shek 
the Chinese were displaying symptoms 
of a nationalism and unity which boded 
ill for Japanese interests in Manchuria 

and dreams of expansion in Asia. By 
1931 the Chinese had already regained 
partial economic control of Manchuria 
and were seeking to remove foreign 
influence from China. The liberal gov- 
ernment of Japan had made clear its 
intention of maintaining Japanese rights 
in Manchuria, but by peaceful means. 
The Army, doubtful of the efficacy of 
such means and acutely aware of the 
strategic importance of Manchuria, de- 
cided on bolder measures and in Septem- 
ber 1931 seized control of key cities in 
Manchuria by force. 

The seizure of Manchuria was the 
work of the Army extremists acting on 
their own authority and in defiance of 
government policy. Presented with a 
fait accompli and fearing open revolt, 
the government gave its reluctant con- 
sent to the Army's action and the Foreign 
Office did its best to justify to the rest 
of the world this violation of the Wash- 
ington Treaties, the Kellogg Peace Pact, 
and the Covenant of the League of Na- 
tions. But the Japanese troops in Man- 
churia, the Kwantung Army, did not 
stop there. Despite opposition in the 
Cabinet and even from the throne, the 
Kwantung Army extended its control 
over the rest of Manchuria, established 
a puppet regime there, and began to 
move into the northern provinces of 
China. Nor did opposition from the 
United States, whose Secretary of State, 
Henry L. Stimson, informed Japan that 
his country could not recognize as legal 
this infringement on existing treaties or 
the violation of the open door policy in 
China, halt the Japanese Army. In 1933, 
after the League of Nations adopted the 
strongly critical report of the Lytton 



Commission, Japan withdrew from the 
League. 3 

The Manchurian incident was but the 
first step in the Army's rise to power. 
Having defied the government and set 
the nation on a course opposed by the 
Cabinet, the Army gained virtual control 
the following year, 1932, as a result of 
the celebrated incident of 15 May when 
a group of young Army and Navy officers 
terrorized Tokyo for several hours and 
assassinated Premier Inukai. 

With the death of the Premier, party 
rule in Japan virtually ceased. The Em- 
peror's advisers, recognizing that either 
outright opposition to or complete ac- 
ceptance of the Army's program would 
be equally disastrous, urged a middle 
course. The result was a series of com- 
promise Cabinets in which the moderate 
and liberal elements opposed the dan- 
gerous policies of the militarists as far 
as prudence would allow and yielded to 
them when necessary. 4 

The balance thus achieved lasted only 
five years, years in which Japan re- 
nounced its adherence to the naval dis- 
armament agreements of ig22 and 1930 
and made abundantly clear its opposi- 
tion to the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922 
guaranteeing the sovereignty and terri- 
torial integrity of China. In 1935 a lib- 

3 The Japan Year Book, 1934 (Tokyo: Foreign Af- 
fairs Association of Japan, 1934); Henry L. Stimson, 
The Far Eastern Crisis (New York: Harper 8c Broth- 
ers, 1936); International Military Tribunal for the 
Far East (IMTFE), Defense and Prosecution Cases of 
Japanese Aggression in Manchuria, Japanese War 
Crimes Files, National Archives; Political Strategy 
Prior to Outbreak of War (in 5 parts), pt. I, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 144, pp. 1-9, Mil Hist Sec, 
Far East Command (FEC). This series was prepared 
by former Japanese Army and Navy Officers under 
the supervision of G-2, FEC. Both the original Japa- 
nese version and translations are on file in OCMH. 

'Reischauer, Japan, Government and Politics, pp. 
154—57; Clyde, The Far East, pp. 600-604, 664; Judg- 

eral movement opposed to fascism and 
militarism and calling for a return to 
full parliamentary government began to 
take form. Liberals in the Diet attacked 
sharply the government's policy and criti- 
cized the War Ministry so strongly that 
it felt constrained to discipline some of 
the extremists in the Army. The ex- 
tremists retaliated in February 1936, 
after the victory of the liberals in the 
elections of that month, with a full-scale 
armed revolt against the government. 
The mutineers, numbering 1,500 sol- 
diers led by twenty-two junior officers of 
the 1st and Guard Divisions (supported, 
there is reason to believe, by other high- 
ranking officers) , attacked members of 
the Cabinet, high court officials, and 
even senior Army officers thought to 
be lukewarm to the cause. The Finance 
Minister and one of the most important 
members of the high command were 
killed, while the Premier himself 
narrowly escaped assassination. 

The government and the high com- 
mand reacted with vigor. Army leaders, 
fearing that the forces they had raised 
might destroy them as well as their ene- 
mies, made serious efforts to restore dis- 
cipline. The revolt was soon suppressed 
and the leading^ offenders court-mar- 
tialed and punished, though lightly. 
Then followed an effective purge of the 

ment, International Military Tribunal for the Far 
East, November 1948 (hereafter cited as IMTFE, 
Judgment), pt. B, pp. 98-103, copy in OCMH. Unless 
otherwise noted, the account which follows is based 
on these sources, passim, and on Herbert Feis, The 
Road to Pearl Harbor, The Coming of the War Be- 
tween the United States and Japan (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1950); Joseph W. Ballan- 
tine, "Mukden to Pearl Harbor: The Foreign Policies 
of Japan," Foreign Affairs, XXVII, No. 4 (July, 
1949), 651-64; and Maxon, Control of Japanese 
Foreign Policy, passim. 



Army, directed by the War Minister and 
the General Staff and designed to pre- 
vent unauthorized or untimely revolts 
which the high command itself did not 
favor. 5 

The 26 February incident marked one 
more step in the Army's rise to power. 
Ten days after the mutiny, the Premier 
resigned and a new government more 
favorably disposed to the Army's pro- 
gram took office. From this time on, 
Japanese policy must be read in terms 
of military strategy. 

•IMTFE, Judgment, pt. B, pp. 113-19; Hugh Byas, 
Government by Assassination (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1942); Latourette, The History of Japan, p. 
219; The Japan Year Book, 1939, pp. 134—36. 

To determine just who made Army 
policy is extremely difficult. Not even 
the leading civilian statesmen of Japan 
seem to have known, and Prince Aya- 
maro Konoye, thrice Premier and a poli- 
tician who made co-operation with the 
Army the keystone of his career, com- 
plained that he never knew where Army 
opinion originated. 6 But there was no 
doubt about the essentials of this pro- 
gram. Its basic objective was to make 
Japan strong enough to become the un- 

° Memoirs of Prince Konoye, in Pearl Harbor At- 
tack: Hearings Before the Joint Committee on the 
Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack (Washing- 
ton, 1946), 39 Parts, (hereafter cited as Pearl Harbor 
Attack Hearings), pt. 20, exhibit 173, p. 4014. 



challenged leader of Asia. This could 
be accomplished, the Japanese military 
leaders believed, only by the expansion 
of the heavy industries necessary to sup- 
port a modern war machine, the inte- 
gration of the economic resources of 
Manchuria into the Japanese economy, 
the establishment of a firm position on 
the Asiatic continent, and the acquisition 
of the strategic raw materials needed to 
make the nation self-sufficient. Without 
these materials, most of which could be 
found in the East Indies and Malaya, 
Japan's pretensions to leadership in Asia 
were empty shadows. 

The Army's program became the of- 
ficial policy of the Japanese Government 
in August 1936. At that time the most 
important members of the Cabinet, in- 
cluding the Premier and the War, Navy, 
Foreign, and Finance Ministers, met to 
fix the program of the new administra- 
tion. The agreement reached at that 
meeting gave the Army and the nation- 
alists all they wanted. Japan, the five 
Ministers agreed, must acquire a "firm 
position" on the Asiatic continent — a 
euphemistic way of saying that China 
must be conquered; expand into south- 
east Asia to secure the bases and raw 
materials needed to make the nation 
strong; and take steps to counter the 
Russian menace to the north. The Min- 
isters had no difficulty in agreeing on 
the measures required to achieve these 
objectives: the Army (including its air 
arm) and the Navy would have to be 
strengthened, trade and industry expand- 
ed, and air and sea transportation im- 
proved. Finally, the Ministers agreed 
that to steel the national will and unify 
public opinion for the coming emer- 
gency, it would be necessary "to establish 
good living conditions for the people, 

increase their bodily strength and foster 
sound thinking." 7 

The five Ministers carefully avoided 
any reference to military action. Rather, 
they stated explicitly that the expansion 
southward was to be gradual and peace- 
ful, that every care would be exercised 
"to avoid aggravating friendly relations 
with other nations" and "to allay the 
Great Powers' suspicion and apprehen- 
sion toward the Empire." 8 But the goals 
these Ministers set for Japan clearly im- 
plied military action. The Soviet Union 
would certainly oppose expansion in the 
north, and Great Britain and the United 
States could be expected to dispute any 
violation of the territorial integrity of 
China. To these opponents could be 
added the French and the Dutch, who 
would challenge Japan's expansion 
southward. Basic, therefore, to the new 
administration's program was the success 
of the effort to increase the nation's mili- 
tary and naval might and its capacity to 
wage war. 

With agreement on the aims and 
methods of national policy, the Army- 
dominated Japanese Government moved 
closer to its natural allies, Germany and 
Italy, and on 25 November 1936 signed 
the Anti-Comintern Pact directed prin- 
cipally against Soviet Russia. The next 
move came in July 1937 when Japanese 
military forces, after a trumped-up inci- 
dent near Peiping, marched into north- 
ern China. This action, like the 
Manchurian incident, was taken by the 
Army alone, without the knowledge or 
approval of the Cabinet, but no difficul- 

' IMTFE, exhibit ai6; Political Strategy Prior to 
Outbreak of War, pt. I, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 144, app. 1. 




ties developed on that account in the first 
phase. The government readily support- 
ed the Army, on condition that it exert 
every effort to prevent the spread of the 
incident. 9 

The vigor of the Chinese reaction 
soon led to full-scale war, an eventuality 
the Japanese military leaders neither ex- 
pected nor desired. 10 With command of 
the sea and air and with overwhelming 
superiority in men and equipment, the 
Japanese were able to occupy quickly 
the capital and the large coastal cities of 
China. But they were never able to ex- 
tend their control much beyond the 
navigable rivers and the railroads or to 
bring the China incident to a successful 
close. It became an increasingly heavy 
drain on the nation's resources and a 
constant source of embarrassment to the 

The United States, like the other pow- 
ers with interests in China, could hardly 
be expected to acquiesce in this new ven- 
ture and in the destruction of the Nine- 
Power Treaty. In unmistakable terms 
it made clear to Japan that it still stood 
by the open-door policy and the terri- 
torial integrity of China, and that it 
considered Japan's action in China a vio- 
lation of existing treaties. At the same 
time the United States Government acted 
with extreme caution and restraint, re- 
sisting public pressure to boycott the 
shipment of oil and scrap iron to Japan 
and declining all offers to mediate in 
the dispute. 

"Political Strategy Prior to the Outbreak of War, 
pt. I, app. 5, Japanese Studies in World War II, 144. 

10 Diary of Marquis Koichi Kido, submitted as an 
affidavit to IMTFE, p. 34. For a full account of the 
China incident from the Japanese point of view, see 
Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. I, 
Japanese Studies in World War II, 144. 

Japan was just as anxious to avoid an 
open break and when the Panay was 
sunk in December 1937, quickly apol- 
ogized and made indemnity. But so 
long as Japan persisted in its efforts to 
conquer China and the United States 
continued to insist on the territorial in- 
tegrity of China and to aid that nation, 
no real solution of the China incident 
or restoration of good relations between 
the two countries was possible. 

As the area of disagreement with the 
United States and Great Britain grew 
larger, Japan moved closer to the Axis. 
To the military, the future of Japan was 
closely tied to the destiny of Nazi Ger- 
many. The Anti-Comintern Pact had 
already paid dividends. Hitler had re- 
fused to participate in the Brussels Con- 
ference of November 1937, called to seek 
a settlement of the conflict in China, 
and had kept the Western Powers so pre- 
occupied with European problems that 
they were unwilling to take any co- 
ordinated action in the Far East. But 
when the Japanese sought a full political 
and military alliance which would free 
them from the danger of Russian inter- 
ference and recognize their special posi- 
tion in China, Hitler countered with a 
demand for military aid against Britain 
and France. This the Japanese were not 
prepared to promise and for two years 
the negotiations hung fire. 

Meanwhile the relations between 
Japan and the United States steadily 
worsened. Six months after the sinking 
of the Panay, the United States placed a 
"moral embargo" on the export of air- 
craft and aircraft equipment to Japan, 
the first in a series of economic meas- 
ures designed to deter Japanese aggres- 
sion. Japan responded in November by 
announcing its intention of establishing 



Japanese Troops Marching Through the Peiping Gate, September 1937. 

a "Co-Prosperity Sphere" in east Asia 
and expressing a pious hope that other 
nations would "understand the true 
intentions of Japan and adopt policies 
suitable for the new conditions." 11 Both 
the United States and Great Britain rec- 
ognized this policy for what it was and 
countered with loans to the Chungking 

By the spring of 1939 the Army was 
ready to commit Japan fully to the Axis. 
But there was sharp disagreement in 
the Cabinet. The Navy and Foreign 
Ministers insisted on an agreement 
directed primarily against the Soviet 
Union and refused to accept any com- 
mitment which might involve Japan in 
a war against the Western Powers. They 

11 United States Relations with China, Dept of 
State Pub 3573 (Washington, 1949), p. 21. 

were willing, however, to agree to lesser 
commitments in the hope that the United 
States and Great Britain might thus be 
forced to accept the situation in China. 
But the Army pressed for the full mili- 
tary agreement demanded by Germany, 
and even planned to negotiate separately 
to secure such an alliance. Neither side 
would give way. 

On 23 August 1939 Germany, without 
Japan's knowledge, concluded a neutral- 
ity pact with Russia. A week later Ger- 
many invaded Poland and the war in 
Europe began. The German-Soviet Pact 
was a stunning blow to Japan's program 
for expansion and to the Army's pres- 
tige. The Japanese felt betrayed and 
bewildered and the Premier promptly 
offered his resignation to the Emperor, 
asserting bitterly that the failure of Ja- 
pan's foreign policy had resulted from 



Konoye Cabinet of June 1937. Circled faces are, from left, Admiral Yonai, Premier 
Konoye, and General Sugiyama. 

"the unreasonableness of the Army." 12 
A combination of civilian statesmen and 
Navy leaders, taking advantage of the 
Army's political eclipse, then attempted 
to reorient national policy toward better 
relations with Great Britain and the 
United States. The Cabinet formed for 
this purpose lasted only four months 
and was succeeded by a compromise 
Cabinet headed by Admiral Mitsumasa 
Yonai, the former Navy Minister. 

All efforts to win over America and 
Britain foundered on the issue of China. 
On 26 July the United States had served 
notice on Japan of its intention to abro- 
gate the commercial treaty which had 
governed the trade relations between the 

"Saionji-Harada Memoirs, 1931—1940 (24 parts 
with appendixes), Civil Intel Sec, G— 2 FEC, copy in 
OCMH, quoted in Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor, 
P- 34- 

two countries since 1911, and in Decem- 
ber of 1939 prohibited Americans from 
furnishing Japan with technical infor- 
mation and manufacturing rights for 
the production of high-grade aviation 
gasoline. After January 1940, when the 
commercial treaty lapsed, the United 
States was free to employ economic sanc- 
tions against Japan. Congress, in June 
of that year, passed the National Defense 
Act which made it possible for the Presi- 
dent to prohibit exports to Japan and 
on 2 July President Franklin D. Roose- 
velt put the export license system into 
effect by restricting the shipment of arms 
and ammunition, certain strategic mate- 
rials such as aluminum, and airplane 

Japanese sentiment, which had veered 
toward the Western Powers after the 
German-Soviet Pact, shifted back toward 



Germany in the spring of 1940 as the 
Axis gained one victory after another in 
quick succession. Once more the Army 
point of view found favor and support. 
The German-Soviet Pact had ruled out, 
at least temporarily, expansion north- 
ward, but the opportunities for easy con- 
quest in the south were better than ever 
once Holland and France had fallen. 
The forces behind a full military and 
political alliance with Germany could 
now argue that such an alliance would 
secure Japan on the north, discourage 
American interference in China, and 
smooth the paths of empire to the south. 

Once more overtures were made to the 
Germans. This time Hitler asked as 
payment for supporting Japan's ambi- 
tions in southeast Asia a Japanese com- 
mitment to hold the United States at 
bay by threatening Hawaii and the Phil- 
ippines if America entered the war in 
Europe. The Premier thought the price 
too high, and the Army, now fully re- 
stored to its former prestige and political 
influence, brought about the fall of the 
Cabinet on 16 July 1940. Prince Konoye, 
who had been Premier in 1938 and was 
favorable to the Army's program, took 
over the reigns of government next. 

In July 1940 Japan stood ready to 
embark on a course of unreserved expan- 
sion to establish the new order in Greater 
East Asia on the ruins of the crumbling 
British, Dutch, and French Empires. 
Only the United States was in a position 
to check Japan's ambitions, but such 
opposition, the Japanese believed, could 
be overcome with the assistance of Ger- 
many and Italy. Once a military pact 
with the Axis Powers had been signed 
and the war in China ended, then Japan 
would be free to establish the new order 
in Asia. All this, the Japanese leaders 

hoped, could be accomplished peacefully, 
but if not, the Japanese intended to be 
ready, for since 1931 they had been pre- 
paring the nation for war. 

Economic and Military Preparations 

In the decade 1930-40, industrial pro- 
duction in Japan increased at a phenom- 
enal rate. In the opening year of the 
decade, Japanese industrial output was 
valued at six billion yen and the em- 
phasis was on the light industries; by 
1941 production had increased fivefold 
and heavy industry constituted 72.7 per- 
cent of the total. 13 

The military significance of this sensa- 
tional rise in industrial production can 
be found in the emphasis on heavy in- 
dustries, the basis of any modern mili- 
tary machine, and a measure of its 
importance lies in the increase in annual 
steel production from 1.8 to 6.8 million 
tons. In 1930 Japan had produced only 
500 vehicles and 400 aircraft. Ten years 
later the annual production of vehicles 
was 48,000 units, and the Japanese air- 
craft industry was manufacturing over 
5,000 planes annually. Shipbuilding in 
Japan showed a similar increase during 
these years. Deliveries under the naval 
construction program in this period to- 
taled 476,000 tons, and construction of 
merchant ships rose from 92,093 tons in 
1931 to 405,195 tons in 1937. 14 

"Jerome B. Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and 
Reconstruction (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of 
Minnesota Press, 1949), p- 1; United States Strategic 
Bombing Survey (USSBS), The Effects of Strategic 
Bombing on Japan's War Economy (Washington, 
1946), p. 12. 

"Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and Reconstruc- 
tion, pp. 2-3; USSBS, Japanese Naval Shipbuilding 
(Washington, 1946), p. 1; USSBS, Japanese Merchant 
Shipbuilding (Washington, 1947), pp. 4—5. 



Table 1 — Japanese Military Budget, 1931-1940 
(in millions of yen) 

ivliiiTsry jiUuj^ct 


Military Budget 

as Percent of 

Total Expenditures 































SouTCt: Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and Reconstruction, p. S. 

Much of this increase in industrial 
production, especially in the heavy in- 
dustries, was due to government expend- 
itures for military purposes which rose 
sharply after 1936 as a result of the Feb- 
ruary igg6 incident and the Army's 
ascendancy. (Table 1) Military expendi- 
tures after 1936 reflected military dom- 
ination of political life. The entire 
economy of the nation was rigidly con- 
trolled and oriented toward war; the 
armament industries were expanded, 
and every effort was made to stockpile 
strategic raw materials. 15 

The production of armaments after 
1936 increased rapidly to meet the de- 
mands of the China war. This increase 
was accomplished under a 5-year plan 
developed by the Army in 1937 and 
officially adopted by the Cabinet two 
years later. Separate programs were es- 
tablished for Japan, Manchuria, and 
northern China, and certain industries 
considered essential for war were select- 

"IMTFE, Judgment, pt. B, pp. 1 14ft. 

ed for rapid expansion. 16 Some success 
was achieved in Manchuria under the 
5-year plan but the program for Japan 
had to be modified several times. The 
aviation and munitions industries made 
rapid progress, the steel industry 
achieved a remarkable success, and the 
production of machine tools surpassed 
the goals established. But other basic 
industries, such as the production of 
synthetic oil and hydroelectric power, 
were limited by the shortage of raw 
materials, and, despite the most strenu- 
ous efforts, failed to reach the goals set 
by the Army. 17 

During these years the Japanese armed 
forces also began building up stockpiles 
of essential supplies. Reserves of weap- 
ons, ammunition, and other important 
military equipment were adequate, but 
those of certain strategic materials were 

™Ibid., p. 353. 

"History of the Army Section, Imperial General 
Headquarters, 1941—1945, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 7s, p. 5; Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and 
Reconstruction, ch. I. 



not. The quantity of bauxite on hand 
in 1941 totaled 254,740 tons, which rep- 
resented a 9-month supply. Also, since 
1938, Japan had been forced to draw 
upon its stockpile of iron ore for the 
war in China, and at the end of 1941 
had only a few months' reserve. 18 

The shortage of petroleum produc- 
tion was the key to Japan's military situ- 
ation. It was the main problem for those 
preparing for war and, at the same time, 
the reason that the nation was moving 
toward war. For the Navy, the shortage 
of oil was critical; for the Army it was 
always a limitation. To secure reserves 
of this precious commodity, Japan im- 
ported heavily during the decade of the 
1930's, the amount reaching 37,160,000 
barrels in 1940. During that year Japan 
produced only 3,163,000 barrels, less 
than 12 percent of the nation's peace- 
time requirements. To increase the 
amount available for military use, civil- 
ian consumption of oil was curtailed 
sharply after 1937, and practically all 
civilian motor traffic was abolished or 
required to use wood and charcoal burn- 
ers. Despite these measures, Japan had 
only 43,000,000 barrels of oil reserves in 
1941, an amount sufficient at most for 
two years of war under the most favor- 
able conditions, if supplemented by 
resources within the empire. 19 

The growth of Japan's military forces 
matched its industrial growth during 
these critical years. Between 1936 and 
1941, the number of men conscripted 
for the Army doubled. At the end of 
1937 Japan had 24 divisions, 16 of which 
were stationed in China; three years lat- 

er the total had risen to 50: 27 in China, 
12 in Manchuria, and the remainder in 
Korea and the home islands. The Army 
Air Forces showed the greatest pro- 
portionate growth, increasing from 54 
squadrons in 1937 to 150 in 1941. Pilots 
were well trained and about half of 
them had actual combat experience in 
China or i n border fi ghting with Soviet 
Russia. 20 

(Table 2) 

Japan's naval forces, which had been 
limited first by the Washington Naval 
Conference (1921) and then by the Lon- 
don Naval Conference (1930) , grew 
rapidly after 1936 when Japan with- 
drew from the naval conference of that 
year. In 1937, twenty new vessels with 
a tonnage of 55,360 tons were complet- 
ed; the next year this amount increased 
to 63,589 tons, and by 1941 had reached 
the prewar peak of 225,159 tons. This 
tonnage represented one battleship of 
the Yamato class, 10 carriers of unspeci- 
fied tonnages, 7 cruisers, and 37 destroy- 
ers. 21 By 1941, Japanese combat ton- 
nage had risen to 1,059,000 tons, more 
than twice that of 1922, and Japan's fleet 
was more powerful than the combined 
United States-British fleets in the Pacific. 

Despite these preparations for war, 
the Japanese Army and Navy had no 
military or naval plans to guide them. 
There were in the files of the supreme 
command statements dealing with na- 
tional defense policy and with the em- 
ployment of troops, but these dated from 
1930 and were expressed in general prin- 
ciples rather than in terms of specific 
operations. Moreover, they provided 
only for a defensive war against either 

"Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and Reconstruc- 
tion, p. 48. 

"USSBS, Oil in Japan's War (Washington, 1946), 
p. 1. 

"Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 73, pp. 2-3; USSBS, Japa- 
nese Air Power (Washington, 1946), pp. 4—5. 

21 USSBS, Japanese Naval Shipbuilding, app. A. 



Table 2 — Japanese Army Ground and Air Forces 
and Navy Air Forces 


Army Ground 
r orce6 


Army Air Forces 
(First-Line Aii craft) 

Navy Air Forces 

Bomber b 










24 (plus 









6 Reserve 
































1941 (8 Dec) 










Source: Japanese Opns in SWPA, GHQ Hist Series, II, p. Si. 

the United States or the Soviet Union, 
and emphasized that in no case should 
Japan fight more than one of these coun- 
tries at the same time. There was no 
mention in these statements of a possible 
war with Great Britain or the Nether- 
lands, or of war against a combination 
of these powers. They were, in the words 
of one Japanese officer, "outdated writ- 
ings" and "utterly nonsensical from the 
standpoint of authority and contents." 22 
The lack of a concrete strategical plan 
was partially overcome by the Army and 
Navy's annual operations plans. Each 
year the two services worked out their 
own plans for operations against the 
two named enemies separately and then 
submitted them for Imperial approval. 
These plans made no provision for total 
war, and so long as the government re- 
fused to decide which was the most likely 
enemy or to admit the possibility of war 
with more than one nation, it was im- 

52 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
IV, Japanese Studies in World War II, 150, pp. 1—2. 

possible to establish priorities, for a wair 
against Russia would require strengthen- 
ing the Army and a war against the 
United States would call for larger naval 
appropriations. The Navy's 1940 plan 
for a war with the United States, there- 
fore, simply declared that the Imperial 
Navy, in co-operation with the Army, 
would destroy American strength in the 
Far East and maintain command of Far 
Eastern waters "by intercepting and 
crushing American fleets." 23 How Amer- 
ica was to be defeated was never even 

The Army's annual plan for 1 940 em- 
phasized defensive operations against the 
Soviet Union from Manchuria. Opera- 
tions to the south were "secondary and 
supplementary in importance." 24 In case 
of war with the United States, the plan- 
ners expected that Japanese forces would 

"Ibid., p. 2. 

"Deposition of former Lt. Gen. Shinichi Tanaka, 
Chief of Operations, Japanese General Staff, IMTFE, 
exhibit 3027. 



take the Philippines and Guam, but 
made no concrete plans for their seizure 
or for countering American reaction. 
The main objective of the Army, they 
believed, was to prepare against attack, 
not to fight a war against the United 
States. The 1940 plan was equally vague 
about Great Britain and the Nether- 
lands. In case of war the plan provided 
for the seizure of Hong Kong and Singa- 
pore, but not for the Netherlands Indies, 
Burma, India, or Australia. Japan, said 
the Army's Chief of Operations, "had 
no capacity to meet the need of a crisis 
. . . with drastic measures on a grand 
scale." 25 

Thus, throughout the decade of the 
1930's, the Japanese leaders had no mili- 
tary strategy for a war against a coalition 
such as they later faced, and their policy 
was based almost entirely on political 
considerations and on what one officer 
called their "exceedingly conceptual and 
common sense understanding of war 
strategy." Deliberations of the Cabinet 
and of the Liaison and Imperial Confer- 
ences, 28 though attended by Army and 
Navy officers, were not limited by pre- 
cise studies and plans outlining the 
course of military and naval action to be 
taken in every conceivable situation. 
They were guided, rather, by political 
strategy "pushed without any considera- 
tion of a definite war strategy plan." 27 


M The Liaison Conference was an informal body 
consisting of the service chiefs, the principal civilian 
ministers, and other high government officials, and 
served as a link between Imperial General Head- 
quarters and the Cabinet. The same body when it 
met with the Emperor on more important occasions 
and under more formal circumstances was known as 
the Imperial Conference. 

51 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
IV, Japanese Studies in World War II, 150, p. 3. 

Japan Moves South 

The program of the Konoye Cabinet, 
which took office on 22 July 1940, set 
the course of Japanese policy for the 
next critical year. This program was 
drawn up on 19 July, even before the 
Cabinet had been organized, and was 
accepted by the four principal ministers 
— the Premier, Prince Konoye, War 
Minister Hideki Tojo, Navy Minister 
Zengo Yoshida, and Foreign Minister 
Yosuke Matsuoka, whom Cordell Hull 
called "as crooked as a basket of fish- 
hooks." The new administration, it was 
agreed, would make its main objective 
the establishment of a new order in east 
Asia, known as the Greater East Asia 
Co-Prosperity Sphere. Included in this 
sphere at first were Hong Kong, Burma, 
French Indochina, Thailand, Malaya, 
the Netherlands Indies, the Philippines, 
and New Guinea; later India, Australia, 
and New Zealand were added to the 
list. Specific measures designed to gain 
this grand objective included a closer 
alliance with the Axis, a nonaggression 
pact with the Soviet Union, and every 
effort necessary to bring the China war 
to an end. While there were some dif- 
ferences among the four ministers over 
the nature and timing of the actual 
measures to be taken, there was no ques- 
tion about basic objectives. And all were 
agreed that any nation that opposed this 
program was the enemy of Japan. 28 

28 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War pt. 
II, Japanese Studies in World War II, 146, pp. 10-16. 
Unless otherwise indicated, this section is based upon 
Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor, passim; Ballantine, 
"Mukden to Pearl Harbor," Foreign Affairs (July, 
1949), pp. 658—61; IMTFE, Judgment, pt. B, pp. 
487-520, pp. 864-903, and the Japanese sources ci •ted 



The program outlined on the igth 
was discussed and approved by the full 
Cabinet on the 26th and, the following 
day, by a Liaison Conference. The deci- 
sions of this last conference, which be- 
came, in effect, the policy of the Japa- 
nese Government, differed only slightly 
from the preliminary program drawn up 
by the four ministers on the 19th. They 
were embodied in a document entitled 
General Principles To Cope With the 
Changing World Situation, laying down 
four specific measures designed to end 
the war in China and to give Japan a 
dominant position in southeast Asia: 

1. The elimination of all aid to the 
Chungking government by third powers. 

2. Adoption of "a firm attitude" to- 
ward the United States and, at the same 
time, the strengthening of political ties 
with the Axis and a drastic readjustment 
of relations with Russia. 

3. Stronger diplomatic measures 
against the Netherlands Indies in order 
to secure vital raw materials. 

4. Intensification of political, eco- 
nomic, and military preparations for 

Japan hoped to gain these objectives by 
peaceful means but was prepared where 
necessary to use force. "In employing 
armed strength," it was agreed at the 
Liaison Conference, "efforts will be 
made to limit the war adversary to Great 
Britain insofar as possible. However, 
thorough preparations for the com- 
mencement of hostilities against the 
United States will be made as it may 
prove impossible to avoid war with that 
country." 29 

M IMTFE, exhibit igio; Political Strategy Prior to 
Outbreak of War, pt. II, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 146, app. 2. 

The first and most pressing problem 
for the new Konoye Cabinet was the 
conflict in China. Already the United 
States had indicated that it was in no 
mood to discontinue its support of Chi- 
ang. On 25 July, only three days after 
Prince Konoye had taken office, Presi- 
dent Roosevelt added scrap iron and oil 
to the list of items whose export was 
subject to license. But the Japanese, 
undeterred by this warning and by the 
prompt rejection of fresh peace over- 
tures to the Chungking Government, 
sought to take advantage of the weakness 
of Vichy France by demanding, first, the 
right to send troops into northern Indo- 
china, adjacent to the China border, to 
intercept supplies to Chiang Kai-shek; 
and second, control of the airfields there 
to provide bases from which to bomb the 
Burma Road and Chungking. These de- 
mands had been specifically outlined in 
the "General Principles" adopted on 27 
July and Japan was ready to resort to 
force to gain them. But military action 
proved unnecessary, for on 29 August, 
after the Germans had brought pressure 
on Vichy France, the French yielded. A 
month later Japanese troops entered 
Indochina. 30 Despite the explanation of 
Foreign Minister Matsuoka that this ac- 
tion was a normal military measure 
against China, the United States entered 
a formal protest. This was an empty 
gesture; more tangible was the loan of 
another twenty-five million dollars to 
Chiang Kai-shek and extension of the 
embargo on scrap iron and steel. 

The effort of the Konoye Cabinet to 
secure strategic raw materials from the 
Netherlands Indies, an effort which 

M Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
II, Japanese Studies in World War II, 146, pp. 7—9, 
app. 2. 



American economic measures had made 
more urgent, met with little success. On 
16 July the Japanese had notified the 
Dutch that they wished to send a mission 
to discuss the relations between the two 
countries, and, after an exchange of 
notes limiting the scope of the mission 
to economic matters, the Minister of 
Commerce, Ichizo Kobayashi, and a staff 
of twenty-four experts, left for Batavia. 
The talks began early in September with 
the Japanese demanding large oil con- 
cessions in the Indies and three million 
tons of oil annually for five years, an 
amount that represented about three- 
fifths of Japan's normal requirements. 
The Dutch companies with whom the 
Japanese dealt, urged on by the British 
and the Americans, refused to meet these 
large demands. They were willing to 
send only half the amount requested 
and that on a 6-month contract basis. 
Kobayashi left Batavia on 22 October, 
and, though the conversations continued 
for some months more, the Japanese 
were never able to get what they want- 
ed. But they took what they could — a 
slight increase in the amount of rubber, 
tin, and bauxite, and an agreement with 
the oil companies for the quantities 

On 27 September, four days after the 
dispatch of troops into French Indo- 
china, Japan concluded the Tripartite 
Pact with Germany and Italy, thus 
achieving one more objective in the 
program outlined by the Liaison Con- 
ference. Under the terms of this agree- 
ment, Germany and Italy recognized the 
leadership of Japan in bringing a new 
order to Asia, and Japan, on its part, 
recognized the new order in Europe. 
More important was the commitment of 
the signatories to come to each other's 

aid "with all political, economic, and 
military means" should any of them be 
attacked by a power with which it was 
not then at war. Since Germany and 
Italy were at war with the western Euro- 
pean nations, and since the pact was not 
to have any effect on the existing rela- 
tions of the signatories with Soviet Rus- 
sia, it was evident that the Tripartite 
Pact was a warning to the United States 
to remain neutral. 

The decision to conclude the Tripar- 
tite Pact had been made on 19 Septem- 
ber at the Imperial Conference. The 
agreements reached at this meeting con- 
stitute an important guide to what Japan 
hoped to achieve from the alliance with 
Germany and Italy and what the policy 
of the nation would be in the months to 
come. Clearly, the ministers expected 
support in their efforts to expand south- 
ward and end the war in China. With 
the co-operation of the Axis they hoped 
to induce the Russians to advance to- 
ward the Persian Gulf, and possibly 
India, that is, in a direction that would 
not threaten Japan. They hoped also, 
with the co-operation of Germany and 
Italy, to bring pressure on the United 
States to accept Japan's claims in the 
south and in China. 

But the four ministers did not expect 
to pay for this support with military 
action, except where it was necessary to 
gain their own objectives. They agreed 
that they would assist the Axis against 
Great Britain by measures short of war, 
but reserved the right to make their own 
decisions on the use of armed force 
against that nation and the United 
States. If the war in China were near a 
conclusion, the four ministers decided, 
then Japan might resort to force to gain 
its objectives, waiting only for the right 



moment. But until that time, they 
agreed, Japan would not go to war 
against Great Britain or the United 
States unless the situation permitted no 
delay. 31 

It is clear that Japan did not interpret 
the Tripartite Pact as a commitment to 
war, and, as a matter of fact, the Em- 
peror agreed to it with misgivings and 
only after he had been assured that it 
would not lead to hostilities. 32 The 
Konoye Cabinet evidently believed that 
the United States (and the Soviet 
Union) would not intervene in the Far 
East if the advance southward was 
achieved gradually and by diplomatic 
means. They hoped that the United 
States would be forced by the Tripartite 
Pact to remain neutral and that the issue 
would be between Japan and the British, 
Dutch, and French who were in no 
position to dispute Japanese expansion 
southward. Soviet opposition was to be 
overcome through the intervention of 
Germany. 33 

These hopes were entirely unrealistic. 
The United States had never retreated 
from its position on China and had 
declined time and again to recognize 
Japan's interpretation of treaties to which 
the United States was a party. Instead 
of showing any timidity or weakness, the 
United States Government on this occa- 
sion adopted a firm but cautious atti- 

31 IMTFE, exhibit 541; IMTFE, Judgment, pp. 
504-508. Takushiro Hattori, The Complete History 
of the Greater East Asia War, translated from Japa- 
nese by FEC, Doc. 78002, 1, 42-45, OCMH. 

" Political Strategy Prior to the Outbreak of War, 
pt. II, Japanese Studies in World War II, 146, app. 4 
and pp. 20—25. The latter reference contains an ac- 
count of the 26 September conference with the Em- 
peror to discuss the treaty. 

"German-Japanese Relations From 1936 to 1943, 
MIS237g54, Mil Intel Div Library; IMTFE, exhibits 
55', 552- 

tude. Cordell Hull announced to news- 
men that the pact did not substantially 
alter the situation, but his statement was 
belied by the announcement on 8 Octo- 
ber 1940 that consuls in the Far East had 
been instructed to advise American citi- 
zens to return home, and that three lin- 
ers had been sent to the Orient to hasten 
their evacuation. 34 Already the Pacific 
Fleet, which was normally based on the 
west coast, had been ordered to remain 
at Pearl Harbor indefinitely, and prepa- 
rations were being made to strengthen 
American garrisons in Alaska, Hawaii, 
and Panama. 35 

While maintaining a firm attitude to- 
ward Japan, the United States Govern- 
ment adopted a policy designed to "avoid 
an open struggle in the Pacific" so that 
American resources would not be divert- 
ed from the main tasks — strengthening 
the nation's military forces and aiding 
Britain. Japan, it was agreed, was not 
to be pushed "to the point where her 
military elements would demand war." 36 
The door was to be left open for discus- 
sion and agreement, but the United 
States was to maintain its treaty rights 
in the Far East, continue to exert eco- 
nomic pressure against Japan, and pro- 
vide aid to China. The Tripartite Pact, 
in the view of the United States, had 
placed Japan in the Axis camp and 
Japan was to be treated as one of the 

"Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, l 
vols. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948), I, 
914—15; Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: 
An Intimate History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 
1948), p. 271. See also Ltr. Joseph C. Grew, formerly 
U.S. Ambassador to Japan, to author, 19 Jun 49, copy 
in OCMH. 

"Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. I, exhibit 9, 
p. 943. Mark Skinner Watson, Chief of Staff: Prewar 
Plans and Preparations, UNITED STATES ARMY 
IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, ig 5 o), ch, XIV. 

"Hull, Memoirs, I, 911. 



Axis Powers. The last chance of settling 
Japanese- American conflicts as a separate 
problem, divorced from European af- 
fairs, was gone. In his Fireside Chat of 
29 December 1940, President Roosevelt 
emphasized that the Tripartite Pact rep- 
resented a threat to the United States 
and that the nation for its own defense 
must increase its aid to the free nations 
and make greater efforts to rearm. 37 

In spite of the fact that the Tripartite 
Pact had failed to convince the United 
States that acceptance of Japan's pro- 
gram for expansion was desirable, the 
Konoye Cabinet continued along the 
path laid out by the Liaison Conference 
of 27 July. Every effort was made to 
bring the war in China to an end; when 
air bombardment failed, the Japanese 
solicited the support of German diplo- 
macy. The only result of these measures 
was another American loan to Chiang 
Kai-shek, this time for a hundred million 
dollars. Japanese policy was no more 
successful in the Indies. The conversa- 
tions begun in September dragged on, 
with a new special envoy taking Koba- 
yashi's place in January 1941. The 
Dutch so stoutly resisted Japanese pres- 
sure for economic co-operation that the 
new envoy reported that force alone 
would produce the desired results. "How 
can we compromise," complained one of 
the Japanese delegates, "when you re- 
fuse to accept our views." 38 But Japan 
was not yet ready for war and rather 
than lose prestige by breaking off the 
negotiations Konoye instructed the dele- 
gates to remain in Batavia. 

31 U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of 
the United States, Japan: 1931— 1941, 2 vols. (Wash- 
ington, 1943), II, 173-81. 

38 Joseph C. Grew, Ten Years in Japan (New York: 
Simon and Schuster, 1944), p. 213. 

In Indochina and Thailand the Japa- 
nese made important gains. Seizing the 
pretext of a border dispute between the 
two countries, Japan offered its services 
as mediator, after prior arrangement 
with Thailand, "on the ground of main- 
taining stability in Greater East Asia." 39 
Britain was particularly concerned over 
Japan's entry into the dispute and the 
possibility of Japanese military inter- 
vention in an area so close to Burma, 
Malaya, and Singapore, and urged the 
French to negotiate. Neither British 
nor American efforts to end the dispute 
proved successful, and on 20 January 
1941 Japan made a formal offer of medi- 
ation. It was accepted by both parties, 
the Vichy Government acceding only 
after German persuasion, and on the last 
day of the month a truce was signed. 
But a final settlement was still to be 

Japan's aims in the border dispute be- 
tween Thailand and French Indochina 
were denned at the Liaison Conference 
of 30 January, when it was decided that 
Japan would use its position as mediator 
to obtain from the French naval bases 
in Camranh Bay and air bases near 
Saigon for a possible attack later against 
Singapore, an attack which the Germans 
were urging with vigor. Both countries 
would be required to sign agreements 
with Japan and promise not to conclude 
with any third power pacts affecting that 
nation. If either proved intractable it 
was agreed that force would be used, and 
for this purpose a large naval force was 
ordered to take up positions along the 
coasts of Indochina and Thailand. To 
the rest of the world, which noted these 
naval movements with considerable con- 

89 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
Ill, Japanese Studies in World War II, 147, p. 12. 



cern, Japan protested that its only inter- 
est in the affair was to bring about peace 
in east Asia. 

Conversations for the settlement of 
the boundary dispute were to open in 
Tokyo at the beginning of February, but 
the Vichy Government, though it had 
agreed to the armistice, would not agree 
so readily to Japanese mediation. Un- 
fortunately, neither the United States 
nor Great Britain was in a position to 
affect the outcome, and the French fin- 
ally agreed on 1 1 March, under the com- 
bined pressure of Germany and Japan, 
to accept mediation of the dispute and 
not to enter into any agreement inimical 
to Japan. The boundary controversy 
was settled on 9 May when the French 
ceded to Thailand most of the land in 
dispute, but Japan did not receive its 
wages until the end of July. 

The date on which Vichy France ac- 
ceded to the Japanese mediation plan, 
1 1 March, was by coincidence the day 
on which the American Congress ap- 
proved and the President signed the 
Lend-Lease Act. The stated purpose of 
this law was to promote the defense of 
the United States, but its real meaning 
lay in the aid it offered to the nations 
fighting the Axis. It was clearly a decla- 
ration of cold war against the Axis Pow- 
ers, and was taken by them as such. 
There was no longer any doubt for those 
who could read American opinion right- 
ly that the United States had taken its 
stand with Britain and China and would 
push all measures short of war to prevent 
their defeat. 

The Konoye Cabinet, indifferent to 
or unable to comprehend the extent of 
American opposition, persisted in its ef- 
forts to push through the program laid 
down on 27 July 1940 in the General 

Principles To Cope With the Changing 
World Situation. One of the objectives 
of this program, it will be recalled, was 
"the readjustment of diplomatic rela- 
tions with Soviet Russia." 40 Until the 
beginning of 1941 the Konoye Cabinet 
had been too involved in other matters 
to act on this front, but at that time, as 
Mr. Matsuoka, the Foreign Minister, was 
preparing to visit Europe, the question 
of an agreement with the Soviet Union 
came up again. The trip to Europe was 
approved and Matsuoka was instructed 
to seek Soviet recognition of Japanese 
supremacy in east Asia but to avoid mili- 
tary commitments. Matsuoka left Tokyo 
on 4 March. His first stop was Moscow 
where he talked with Molotov about the 
possibility of a nonaggression pact. Noth- 
ing tangible resulted from these conver- 
sations and Matsuoka went on to Berlin. 
Hitler had already decided to attack 
Russia, and urged that Japan take ag- 
gressive action in the Far East, specifi- 
cally against Singapore, to bring about 
the final collapse of England. Not a word 
was said about the forthcoming attack 
on Russia, although Matsuoka may have 
surmised it; instead, the Germans hinted 
darkly about worsening relations with 
the Soviet Union when the Japanese For- 
eign Minister explained the nature of 
his talks with Molotov. 

On his return trip Matsuoka stopped 
again in Moscow. The Russians had had 
a month to consider his proposals. Per- 
suaded perhaps by foreknowledge of the 
impending German attack, as well as a 
willingness to encourage Japan's drive 
southward, Molotov and Stalin proved 
remarkably amenable to Matsuoka's pro- 
posals. On 13 April, after only a week 

* Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
II, Japanese Studies in World War II, 146, app. 2. 



of deliberation, an agreement that 
pledged Japan and the Soviet Union to 
respect each other's territorial integrity 
and to remain neutral in case of attack 
by a third power was signed. 

The Japanese were jubilant over the 
pact with Russia and immediately made 
plans to push the program for expansion 
to the south, a program to which the 
Army and Navy were already heavily 
committed. It had been decided earlier 
that this expansion was to be achieved 
by diplomatic means, but that prepara- 
tions for military action must be rushed 
if peaceful methods failed. On 6 Decem- 
ber 1940 the Army had designated three 
divisions, then in south China, to be 
trained for operations in tropical areas, 
and ten days later had directed com- 
manders in China and Formosa to study 
the problems involved in such operations 
and to prepare area studies of the Indies, 
Malaya, Indochina, Thailand, Burma, 
the Philippines, and Guam. 41 Next 
month the Japanese had begun aerial 
reconnaissance of the Malayan coast and 
the War Ministry and Foreign Office be- 
gan to print military currency for use 
in the southern area. 

Among the military preparations the 
Japanese undertook in the early spring 
of 1941 was a plan to take Singapore, a 
step the Germans favored highly for 
their own purposes. The Japanese were 
not averse to German support and were 
using this support to wrest from the 
Vichy Government advance bases in In- 
dochina from which, presumably, they 
would attack the British Far Eastern 
bastion. Repeatedly the Japanese assured 
the Germans that they hoped to take 

"Imperial GHQ Army Dept Directives, 791, 6 Dec 
40; 810, 16 Jan 41; and 812, 18 Jan 41, copies in 

Singapore, probably in May, but refused 
to commit themselves beyond the occu- 
pation of Saigon. They also assured the 
Germans that they were making prepa- 
rations for a possible war against the 
United States, but had actually devel- 
oped no plans for such a war other than 
a personal study initiated in January by 
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, command- 
er of the Combined Fleet and an ardent 
advocate of carrier-based operations, for 
an attack against Pearl Harbor. 42 

Japan's position in Indochina had 
been greatly strengthened in May when 
an economic and political agreement 
with the Vichy Government was con- 
cluded. But in southern Indochina, 
where there were no Japanese troops, 
there was strong anti-Japanese sentiment 
supported by the de Gaullists, the Chin- 
ese, the British, and the Americans. The 
economic results of this sentiment were 
most disadvantageous to the Japanese 
and were reflected in the decreased 
quantity of rice exported from Indo- 
china to Japan and the threat that other 
vital Indochinese resources such as rub- 
ber, tin, coal, and manganese would find 
their way into other markets. The occu- 
pation of southern Indochina, therefore, 
became an urgent matter for the Japa- 
nese and one which was to have an im- 
portant effect on their relations with 
other nations. 

Nor were Japanese efforts to wrest 
concessions from the Dutch meeting with 
success. The conversations had been 
going from bad to worse, although the 
Dutch had increased slightly the 

"Apparently this study was kept a secret from the 
authorities, and even Yamamoto's staff, except 
for Rear Adm. Ohnishi, knew nothing of it. State- 
ment of Rear Adm. Tomioka, then Chief of the 
Operational Section, Navy General Staff. 



amounts of rubber, tin, bauxite, and 
nickel promised the Japanese earlier. 
But the requests for more oil and for 
concessions in the Indies had not yet 
been granted. Finally, on 17 June, Japan 
broke off the conversations and ordered 
its delegates home. Though the Japa- 
nese sought to minimize its meaning, 
this action was clearly an admission of 

By this time Japan was feeling the 
pinch of shortages created by the con- 
trols the United States had instituted 
over shipments to Japan, and the rela- 
tions between the two countries had im- 
proved not at all. Efforts to settle the 
outstanding disagreements between them 
had begun in February, when Ambassa- 
dor Kichisaburo Nomura arrived in the 
United States. 43 After a series of pre- 
liminary talks with President Roosevelt 
and Mr. Hull, Nomura, on 18 April, 
handed the Americans a 7-point proposal 
as the basis for an agreement. Essential- 
ly, this proposal called for the United 
States to provide, or assist Japan in secur- 
ing, strategic raw materials, and to per- 
suade Chiang to reach agreement with 
Japan. In return, Japan would agree 
not to start war in the southwest Pacific 
and to interpret the Tripartite Pact as 
meaning Japan would support Germany 
only if that nation were the object of 
aggression. The proposal was not accept- 
able to the Americans and was made 
even less so by revisions from Tokyo. 
On 30 May, Mr. Hull presented an in- 
terim American proposal to Nomura and 
on 2 1 June a second draft, to which was 

"These conversations were initiated unofficially by 
two clergymen. IMTFE, exhibit 3441, Ltr, Joseph 
C. Grew to author, 19 Jun 49, OCMH. A full account 
from the American side can be found in Hull, 

attached a "verbal memo" containing a 
delicate reference to the lack of confi- 
dence the Americans had in the pro-Axis 
Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Mat- 
suoka. The negotiations had reached a 
deadlock and the only hopeful sign was 
the trouble brewing within the Japanese 
Cabinet where a change might produce 
a shift in the direction of Japanese 

The impending crisis in the Japanese 
Government was rapidly accelerated by 
the German invasion of the Soviet Union 
on 22 June, the day after Hull handed 
his note to Nomura. Though the Japa- 
nese had expected the attack, they were 
greatly upset when it came for it changed 
the entire complexion of world events 
and strengthened America's hand in the 
Pacific. The Japanese were oriented to- 
ward the south and seeking to obtain 
from Vichy France, with Germany's help, 
control over southern Indochina. This 
new development opened up the possi- 
bility of an advance northward, and thus 
required a thorough review of Japan's 
position and a reconsideration of the 
program established a year before. 

The course charted by the Liaison 
Conference in July 1940 had by the mid- 
dle of June 1941 brought Japan few of 
the advantages so optimistically expect- 
ed. More by military pressure than 
diplomacy Japan had obtained from a 
defeated and subjugated France the 
right to occupy Tonkin Province in In- 
dochina and the use of French air bases 
and military facilities there. Hopes for 
a base in southern Indochina had not 
yet been realized; the results of the eco- 
nomic agreement were proving disap- 
pointing, and important opposition to 
the new order in Asia was developing 
in Indochina. Efforts to secure from the 



Dutch the oil and other resources needed 
so desperately to support operations in 
China and to prepare for war had yield- 
ed meager results and ended in a serious 
diplomatic defeat. Negotiations with the 
United States had produced as yet no 
easy formula for peace and there was no 
sign that America would yield to the 
minimum Japanese demands. The Tri- 

partite Pact had paid dividends, but, as 
events turned out, had proved unneces- 
sary and had created a formidable ob- 
stacle to an agreement with the United 
States. But the Japanese were never able 
to resolve the deadlock in China, and it 
was this failure that forced them to adopt 
in desperation a course that led almost 
irresistibly to war. 


Europe Versus the Pacific 

The second rule is to concentrate your power as much as possible against 
that section where the chief blows are to be delivered and to incur 
disadvantages elsewhere. Clausewitz 

Since 1938, when the last revision of 
Orange was completed, American mili- 
tary strategists had made every effort to 
bring their plans into line with the 
rapidly changing situation in Europe 
and Asia. The world was dividing into 
two armed camps. On one side were 
Germany and Italy, associated with 
Japan by the Anti-Comintern Pact. For 
three years, these powers had been 
pursuing their aggressive policies in 
the Rhineland, Ethiopia, Austria, and 
China. On the other side were the 
democratic powers, Great Britain and 
France. Still suffering from the pro- 
longed economic crisis of the early 1930's 
and weakened by domestic conflicts, 
these two had remained passive in the 
face of Axis threats and sought to avert 
armed conflict by a policy of appease- 
ment. While such hopes did not seem 
entirely without foundation at the time, 
American leaders could no longer ignore 
the possibility of becoming involved in 
a two-ocean war. 

The 1938 revision of Orange, with its 
emphasis on flexibility, represented an 
effort to bring strategy into line with 
the international situation. The Navy's 
single-minded insistence on an advance 
into the western Pacific was still reflected 

in the plan, but it was modified by an 
increasing awareness of the uncertainties 
of a world threatened by the rising tide 
of Axis aggression. The Army, with its 
concern for the defense of the United 
States, was shifting away from the Pacific 
orientation that had dominated strategic 
planning since World War I and was 
turning anxious eyes toward Europe. A 
Red or a Red-Orange war was no longer 
within the realm of probability, but the 
Atlantic area occupied more and more of 
the attention of the strategists after 1938. 1 

'The material covered in this chapter has been 
treated more fully from different points of view and 
with different emphases in a number of works in the 
II: Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell, Strategic 
Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942 (Wash- 
ington, 1953), chs. I— III; Watson, Chief of Staff: 
Prewar Plans and Preparations, chs. IV, X, and XII; 
Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, 
Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943 (Washing- 
ton, 1953), pt. one; Stetson Conn and Byron Fair- 
child, The Framework of Hemisphere Defense 
(Washington, ig6o), chs. I— V; and also in William 
L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Undeclared 
War, 1940-1941 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 
1953). The present account is based on the original 
sources, except where otherwise indicated, and has 
appeared in slightly different form in Kent R. Green- 
field, gen. ed.. Command Decisions (New York: 
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1959). 



Strategic Adjustment, ip^8—ig^o 

Though it was the Army planners who 
seemed most aware of the danger from 
Europe, it was the Navy that made the 
first move to strengthen America's Atlan- 
tic defenses. In December 1937, shortly 
after the Panay incident, the Director of 
the Navy War Plans Division, Capt. 
Royal E. Ingersoll, was sent to London 
to discuss informally with the British 
Admiralty the new construction pro- 
grams of the two navies and the condi- 
tions of U.S.-British naval co-operation 
in the event both nations were involved 
in a war against Japan. During the course 
of these discussions, the possibility of a 
German war inevitably arose. The Brit- 
ish viewed this possibility with real con- 
cern, for the Germans could be expected 
to attack British trade routes in the 
Atlantic. Should Italy join Germany, 
the prospects were even more alarming. 
The French, if they entered the war, 
would hold the western Mediterranean, 
but the British would still have to place 
the bulk of their forces in the Atlantic. 
They would have little, therefore, to 
send to the Far East. Here the United 
States could perform a valuable service 
in the common cause by taking up the 
slack in the Far East in return for the 
security the Royal Navy would provide 
in the Atlantic. Even if the United 
States became involved in the European 
conflict, Great Britain could still be relied 
upon to man the Atlantic barrier so long 
as the U.S. Fleet assumed responsibility 
for the Pacific. It is perhaps for this 
reason that the Navy members of the 
Joint Planning Committee, in their dis- 
cussions over Orange in 1938, seemed 
less concerned about the Atlantic and 

more interested in the Pacific than the 
Army planners. 2 

Events in Europe in the fall of 1938 
fully justified the concern of American 
policy makers and planners, and the 
Munich crisis in September of that year 
provided the impetus to a comprehensive 
review of American strategy. Taking the 
lead from the public statements of Pres- 
ident Roosevelt and Secretary of State 
Hull, the Joint Board directed its plan- 
ning committee in November to make a 
study of the course the United States 
should follow if German and Italian 
aggression in Europe and Japanese ex- 
pansion in the Far East should threaten 
American security and interests in both 
the Atlantic and Pacific simultaneously. 3 

Here, for the first time, was a specific 
directive to the planners to study, within 
the context of the current international 
situation, the problems presented by a 
two-ocean war in which the United 
States, acting in concert with allies, 
would be opposed by a coalition. These 
problems had been studied before in the 
Orange-Red plans, but under entirely 
different assumptions and in a com- 
pletely different situation. They had 
been considered briefly and tangentially 
also in the latest revision of Orange with 
its provision for a position of readiness 
and co-operation with allies. The infor- 
mal naval conversations in London in 
January 1938 were a clear recognition 
of the possibility of such a war and the 
first step toward the intimate military 
collaboration that marked the Anglo- 

*For an account of the staff conversations in Lon- 
don early in 1938, see Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, 
pt. 9, pp. 4272-78 and Capt. Tracy B. Kittredge, 
U.S.-British Naval Cooperation, 1939-1945, sec. I, 
pt. C, pp. 37-38, MS in OCMH. 

*Mins, JB Mtg, g Nov 1938. 



American relationship during World 
War II. 

For almost six months the planners of 
the Joint Board considered the problem 
presented by simultaneous Axis aggres- 
sion in the Atlantic and Pacific areas and 
finally in April 1939 submitted their 
report. In it they reviewed the world 
situation, estimated the likelihood of 
war, calculated the probable objectives 
of the Axis in Europe and Japan in the 
Far East, discussed the effects of con- 
certed action by these powers on the 
United States, and analyzed the strategic 
problems involved in the various situa- 
tions that might result from such action. 
So comprehensive was the report, such a 
model of strategic analysis, that it was 
characterized by the Joint Board as "a 
monument" to its planning committee 
and became the basis for much of the 
strategic planning before Pearl Harbor.* 

In their effort to arrive at a sound 
military strategy for the United States, 
the ioint planners examined the various 
contingencies that might arise as a result 
of Axis aggression. Based on this 
examination, they concluded: 

1 . Germany and Italy would take overt 
action in the Western Hemisphere only 
if Great Britain and France remained 
neutral or were defeated. 

2. Japan would continue to expand 
into China and Southeast Asia at the 
expense of Great Britain and the United 
States, by peaceful means if possible but 
by force if necessary. 

3. The three Axis Powers would act 
together whenever the international 
situation seemed favorable. If other 

4 Mins, JB Mtg, 6 May 1939; Ltr, JPC Rpt, Explor- 
atory Studies, 21 April iggg, JB 325, ser. 634. The 
discussion of the report is based on the Exploratory 
Studies and related papers in the same file. 

countries, including the United States, 
reacted promptly and vigorously to such 
action then a general war might well 

The reaction of the United States to 
these or any other situations that might 
arise, the planners pointed out, would 
depend in large measure on the forces 
available and the extent to which Amer- 
ican interests were involved. In the 
event of a threat in both oceans simul- 
taneously, the United States, they main- 
tained, should assume the defensive in 
the Pacific, retaining adequate forces 
based on Hawaii to guard the strategic 
triangle. Arguing further in a manner 
reminiscent of Red-Orange planning, 
the strategists of the Joint Board declared 
that priority in a two-ocean war must go 
first to the defense of vital positions in 
the Western Hemisphere — the Panama 
Canal and the Caribbean area. From 
bases in that region, the U.S. Fleet could 
operate in either ocean as the situation 
demanded, but its primary obligation 
must always be to control the Atlantic 
approaches to the Western Hemisphere, 
especially to the south where the conti- 
nent was most exposed. This task would 
not be difficult if Great Britain and 
France actively opposed Axis aggression, 
but if they did not the security of the 
South Atlantic would become the major 
concern of U.S. forces. In this situation, 
the active co-operation of the Latin 
American states was indispensable. 

In their studies the planners also con- 
sidered the possibility of a war with 
Japan alone. The United States would 
have to expect to lose all its possessions 
west of 180 degrees early in such a war, 
which, the planners prophetically pointed 
out, might well begin with a Japanese 
effort "to damage major fleet units with- 



out warning," or a surprise attempt "to 
block the fleet in Pearl Harbor." It 
would be necessary, then, for American 
forces to light their way back across the 
Pacific in a series of amphibious opera- 
tions using one of four routes: (1) the 
Aleutians; (2) Pearl Harbor-Midway- 
Luzon; (3) the Marshalls-Carolines- 
Marianas-Yap-Pelileu; and (4) Samoa- 
New Guinea-Mindanao. The planners 
favored the second and third routes and 
thought that a combination of the two 
would have to be used. The garrisons 
in Hawaii, Alaska, and Panama were to 
be reinforced, but not the Philippines, 
apparently on the assumption that their 
loss was certain. The planners were 
astute enough to recognize, however, 
that "emotionalized opinion rather than 
... a reasoned adjustment of operations 
to the means at hand" might ultimately 
dictate the choice of battleground. 

American military forces in 1939 
seemed sufficiently strong to accomplish 
the minimum tasks required under the 
strategic concept proposed by the plan- 
ners — defense of U.S. vital interests in 
the Western Hemisphere and in the 
Atlantic area. After hostilities began, 
American forces could be strengthened 
sufficiently to defeat the enemy operating 
in the Atlantic, even without the aid of 
Great Britain and France. If, at the same 
time, the United States maintained ade- 
quate defensive forces in the Pacific, 
Japan could probably be restricted to 
the western Pacific. It was even possible, 
in such a situation, that the Japanese 
leaders might prefer peace with the 
United States, hoping thereby to reap a 
profit from the war without cost to them- 
selves. If, on the other hand, Japan ini- 
tiated hostilities and the United States 
adopted a position of readiness but re- 

frained from an advance to the western 
Pacific, the European Axis would prob- 
ably not undertake any aggressive adven- 
tures in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, 
on all accounts, the planners held that a 
defensive strategy in the Pacific was 
preferable to any other course. 

On the basis of their study the joint 
planners recommended that a series of 
war plans be prepared, each of them to 
be applicable to a different situation. 
Priority in these plans, they held, must 
be given to the defense of the United 
States, and this would require safeguard- 
ing the security of the Western Hemi- 
sphere. To hold firm to these objectives 
would be no easy task, the planners rec- 
ognized. Not only must strategy be 
linked to policy, but it must also take 
cognizance of such intangibles as tradi- 
tion, the spirit of the nation, and 
"emotionalized public opinion." 

The pioneering study by the joint 
planners in 1939 raised sharply and 
dramatically the question of American 
policy in the event of concerted aggres- 
sion by Germany, Italy, and Japan. By 
focusing on the threat to the Caribbean 
and South America, the planners chal- 
lenged strongly the long-standing orien- 
tation of American strategy toward the 
Pacific and gave weight to the Army's 
arguments against offensive operations 
in the western Pacific. 

The planners raised another issue that 
needed to be resolved before the course 
of national policy could be charted. All 
the color plans had been based on the 
assumption the United States would act 
alone. Was this assumption valid in 
terms of the international situation and 
in the face of a threatening Axis coali- 
tion? Should the strategists in drawing 
up their plans therefore assume that the 



United States would have allies? And if 
so, who would they be and what would 
the United States be expected to do for 
them and they for this nation? Like the 
Atlantic vs. Pacific issue, this question of 
allies involved political matters and 
would have to be resolved by the 
President himself. 

It was perhaps as well that no firm 
answers were forthcoming in the spring 
of 1939, for the course of events was still 
far from clear. The planners recognized 
this when they proposed that alternative 
plans be prepared to meet different situ- 
ations in which the United States would 
have to meet the combined threat of 
Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Joint 
Board, in approving the work of the 
planners, accepted this recommendation 
and in June 1939 laid down the guide 
lines for the development of these war 
plans, aptly designated Rainbow to dis- 
tinguish them from the color plans. 5 

There were ultimately five Ratnbow 
plans in all, each of them based on a 
different situation. The objective of all 
was the same — to defend the United 
States and the Western Hemisphere from 
Axis aggression and penetration, overt 
or concealed. In each of the plans the 
planners "set forth the specific co-opera- 
tion that should be sought from allied 
or neutral Democratic Powers, with re- 
spect to specific Theaters of Operations 
to render our efforts fully effective." 
Common to all of the plans was the 

"The first directive of the Joint Board was dated 
11 May 1939, but on further study was revised and 
amended instructions issued on 30 June. Mins, JB 
Mtg, 6 May 3g, and 30 June, JB 325, ser. 634; Ltrs, 
JB to JPC, 1 1 May 39, sub: Joint Army and Navy 
Basic War Plans, Rainbow's 1, 2, 3, and 4; JPC to JB, 
23 Jun 3g, same sub; JB to JPC, 30 Jun 39, same sub. 
All in JB 325, ser. 642 and 642—1. 

assumption that the United States would 
face a coalition rather than a single 

The five specific situations forming 
the basis of the five Rainbow plans were 
defined by the Joint Board as follows: 

Rainbow 1 assumed the United States to 
be at war without major allies. United 
States forces would act jointly to prevent 
the violation of the Monroe Doctrine by 
protecting the territory of the Western 
Hemisphere north of latitude 1O south, 
from which the vital tasks of the United 
States might be threatened. The joint tasks 
of the Army and Navy included protection 
of the United States, its possessions and its 
seaborne trade. A strategic defensive was to 
be maintained in the Pacific, from behind 
the line Alaska-Hawaii-Panama, until de- 
velopments for offensive action against 

Rainbow 2 assumed that the United 
States, Great Britain, and France would be 
acting in concert, with limited participa- 
tion of U.S. forces in continental Europe 
and in the Atlantic. The United States 
could, therefore, undertake immediate of- 
fensive operations across the Pacific to 
sustain the interests of democratic powers 
by the defeat of enemy forces. 

Rainbow 3 assumed the United States 
to be at war without major allies. Hemi- 
sphere defense was to be assured, as in 
Rainbow 1, but with early projection of 
U.S. forces from Hawaii into the western 

Rainbow 4 assumed the United States to 
be at war without major allies, employing 
its forces in defense of the whole of the 
Western Hemisphere, but also with pro- 
vision for United States Army forces to be 
sent to the southern part of South America, 
and to be used in joint operations in east- 
ern Atlantic areas. A strategic defensive, 
as in Rainbow 1, was to be maintained in 
the Pacific until the situation in the At- 
lantic permitted transfer of major naval 
forces for an offensive against Japan. 

Rainbow 5 assumed the United States, 
Great Britain, and France to be acting in 



concert; hemisphere defense was to be as- 
sured as in Rainbow i, with early projec- 
tion of U.S. forces to the eastern Atlantic, 
and to either or both the African and 
European continents; offensive operations 
were to be conducted, in concert with 
British and allied forces, to effect the de- 
feat of Germany and Italy. A strategic 
defensive was to be maintained in the 
Pacific until success against European Axis 
Powers permitted transfer of major forces 
to the Pacific for an offensive against 
Japan. 6 

Of the five plans, Rainbow i was 
basic, though most limited. Providing 
for the defense of the Western Hemi- 
sphere from the bulge of Brazil to 
Greenland and as far west as Midway 
in the Pacific, it established the necessary 
conditions that had to be met before any 
of the other plans could be executed. 
Rainbow's 2 and 3 called for offensive 
operations into the western Pacific, the 
former on the assumption that Great 
Britain and France would be allies, and 
the latter that they would not. In this 
respect, Rainbow 3 established virtually 
the same conditions as the Orange 
plan. Rainbow 4 also assumed that 
Great Britain and France would be neu- 
tral, presumably as a result of Axis mili- 
tary action, and therefore emphasized the 
defense of the Western Hemisphere 
against external aggression. Emphasis in 
this plan as in Rainbow 1 was on limited 
action to fend oft any Axis threat to the 
American republics. In neither Rain- 
bow 1 nor 4 were major U.S. forces to 
be sent to Europe or to the far Pacific. 

The situation envisaged in Rainbow 
5 came closer to the conditions of World 
War II than any of the others, though 

•Kittredge, U.S.-British Naval Cooperation, sec. 
I, Part D, Notes pp. 42^6; Memo, JPC to JB, 23 Jun 
39; Mins, JB Mtg, 30 Jun 39, JB 325, ser. 642. 

these were not foreseen at the time. Like 
Rainbow 2, it assumed the active col- 
laboration of Great Britain and France. 
But unlike that plan, which called for 
the United States to make the major ef- 
fort in the Pacific, Rainbow 5 envisaged 
the rapid projection of American forces 
across the Atlantic to Africa or Europe 
"in order to effect the decisive defeat of 
Germany, Italy, or both." Clearly im- 
plied in this statement was the concept 
that finally emerged as the basic strategy 
of World War II: that in a war with 
the European Axis and Japan, Germany 
would be the major enemy and the main 
effort would be made in Europe to 
secure the decisive defeat of Germany at 
the earliest possible date. 

The summer of 1939 was one of tense 
expectancy. Europe was on the verge of 
war and Japan showed no disposition to 
abandon aggression in Asia. During 
these months, a joint Rainbow 1 plan, 
which had first priority, was completed 
and the two services hurriedly pushed 
forward completion of their own plans 
for hemisphere defense. 7 

There were important organizational 
changes, too, at this time. In an effort 
to keep in close touch with his military 
advisers, President Roosevelt on 5 July 
1 939 placed the Joint Board under his 
immediate "supervision and direction." 
Up to that time, the board, it will be re- 
called, had reported to the two service 
Secretaries, under whose authority the 
board functioned. It had now a broader 
basis, but still sent its recommendations 
through the Secretaries, for the President 
had no desire to alter existing proce- 

' Joint War Plan Rainbow i, JB 325, ser. 642-1. 
Approved by the Joint Board on 9 August, by the 
Secretary of War and Secretary of Navy on 14 August 
ig3g, and by the President orally two months later. 



General Marshall. (1944 photo.) 

dures. 8 This change coincided with a 
change in the high command. On 1 
August, Admiral Harold R. Stark was 
appointed Chief of Naval Operations to 
succeed Admiral Leahy, and a month 
later General George C. Marshall for- 
mally succeeded General Malin Craig as 
Chief of Staff of the Army after two 
months as Acting Chief. 

The outbreak of war in Europe early 
in September 1939 gave a fresh urgency 
to Rainbow planning. Rainbow 2 
seemed to fit the situation of the moment 
best and while work went forward on the 
development of plans, the President took 
measures to strengthen the nation's de- 
fenses and to keep America out of war 
by keeping war away from America. 
Immediately on the outbreak of hostil- 

8 Mil Order, 5 Jul 39; Memo of Secy JB, 20 Jul 39, 
JB 346, ser. 646. 

Admiral Stark 

ities he proclaimed the neutrality of the 
United States, while ordering the Army 
and Navy to bring their strength up to 
the full authorized level. On his initia- 
tive, the Foreign Ministers of the Amer- 
ican Republics met at Panama at the end 
of September to proclaim their neutral- 
ity and to devise measures for their joint 
defense. American security zones were 
proclaimed in the western Atlantic and 
eastern Pacific, and plans made to patrol 
these zones to keep war away from the 

Throughout the winter of 1939-1940, 
the period of the "phony war," the joint 
planners sought to develop plans to meet 
the Rainbow 2 contingency. The task 
proved a formidable one, indeed, for 
the range of possibilities was wide. 
Moreover, each proposed course of 
action in the Pacific had to be co-ordi- 



nated with that of the Allies. But with- 
out specific knowledge of the plans of 
their allies, the planners were faced with 
many uncertainties. In April 1940, 
therefore, they proposed that conversa- 
tions should be held with the British, 
French, and Dutch "as soon as the diplo- 
matic situation permits." By that time, 
the Army planners had prepared four 
drafts of a proposed Rainbow 2 plan, on 
each of which the Navy had commented 
in detail. 9 

The Critical Summer of 1940 

The planners were still trying to solve 
the problems posed by Rainbow 2 when 
the nature of the war in Europe changed 
abruptly in the spring of 1940. Early in 
April, German forces invaded Denmark 
and Norway and by the end of the month 
had occupied both countries. On 10 
May, the German campaign against 
France opened with the attack on the 
Netherlands and Belgium, and four days 
later German armor broke through the 
French defenses in the Ardennes. At the 
end of the month the British began the 
evacuation from Dunkerque, and on 10 
June, Italy declared war. A week later, 
the beaten and disorganized French 
Government sued for peace. With 
France defeated and England open to 
attack and invasion, the threat from the 
Atlantic looked real indeed. 

Nor was there any consolation to be 
found in the situation in Asia. In China, 
the Japanese had succeeded in occupy- 
ing North China, the coastal area as far 
south as Canton, and the principal river 
and rail lines. Tokyo diplomats were 
speaking of a Japanese "Monroe Doc- 

9 The various drafts of Rainbow 2 can be found 
in the Army files of the JPC, JB 325, ser. 642-2. 

trine," and there was every indication 
that Japan intended to exploit the Axis 
victories in Europe and take over the 
French, British, and Dutch possessions in 
Asia and the Southwest Pacific. Only the 
United States was in a position to chal- 
lenge Japan, and on 10 April 1940 the 
Joint Board instructed its planners to 
give priority to the development of plans 
based on Rainbow's 2 and 3, both of 
which called for offensive operations in 
the Pacific. 10 That same month, the 
Pacific Fleet moved into Hawaiian 
waters for maneuvers, and despite the 
protests of its commander was kept there 
throughout- the spring as a deterrent to 
Japanese aggression. Finally in June, 
when a Soviet-Japanese pact freed Japan 
for further aggression to the south, the 
fleet was ordered to remain indefinitely 
in Hawaiian waters. So tense was the 
situation that on the 17th of the month, 
as a result of reports of possible attacks 
on Pearl Harbor or Panama Canal, Gen- 
eral Marshall sent alerts to the Army 
commanders in Hawaii and Panama. 11 

In this crisis, American strategy under- 
went a critical review. Clearly the 
greater danger was in Europe, and Rain- 
bow's 2 and 3 with their orientation to- 
ward the far Pacific were scarcely appli- 
cable. The defeat of France in June and 

10 Mins, JB Mtgs, 22 Feb and 10 Apr 1940; JPC to 
JB, g Apr 40, sub: Joint War Plans Rainbow, ap- 
proved 10 April, JB 325, Ser. 642—1. The priorities 
established for Rainbow planning at this time were 

1. Complete Rainbow 2. 

2. Develop Rainbow 3 as far as the main courses 
of action. 

3. Develop Rainbow 5 as far as the main courses 
of action. 

4. Complete Rainbow 3. 

5. Complete Rainbow 5. 

Rainbow 4 was assigned the lowest priority and no 
planning for it was scheduled. 

"The alert message is reproduced in Pearl Harbor 
Attack Hearings, pt. 15, p. 1594. 



the possibility that Great Britain might 
soon fall outweighed any danger that 
Japanese aggression could present to 
American security. Calling for an early 
decision from higher authority, the 
Army planners argued that since the 
United States could not fight everywhere 
— in the Far East, Europe, Africa, and 
South America — it should limit itself to 
a single course. Defense of the Western 
Hemisphere, they held, should consti- 
tute the main effort of American forces. 
In any case, the United States should not 
become involved with Japan and should 
concentrate on meeting the threat of 
Axis penetration into South America. 12 
The Army's concern about America's 
ability to meet a possible threat from an 
Axis-dominated Europe in which the 
British and French Navies might be em- 
ployed against the United States was 
shared by the Navy. As a result, the 
joint planners began work on Rainbow 
4, which only a month earlier had been 
accorded the lowest priority, and by the 
end of May had completed a plan. The 
situation envisaged now in Rainbow 4 
was a violation of the Monroe Doctrine 
by Germany and Italy coupled with 
armed aggression in Asia after the elimi- 
nation of British and French forces and 
the termination of the war in Europe. 
Under these conditions, the United 
States was to limit itself to defense of 
the entire Western Hemisphere, with 
American forces occupying British and 
French bases in the western Atlantic. 13 

"Memos, WPD for CofS, 22 May 40, sub: National 
Strategic Decisions; CofS for WPD, 23 May 40, no 
sub; Aide Memoire, Maj Matthew B. Ridgway, 23 
May 40. All in WPD 4175-10. 

13 Ltr, JPC to JB, 31 May 40, sub: Joint Army and 
Navy Basic War Plan Rainbow 4. The Joint Board 
approved the plan early in June and the Secretaries 

Acceptance by the Joint Board of the 
Rainbow 4 plan was the beginning 
rather than the end of the comprehen- 
sive review of strategy precipitated by 
Germany's startling success in Europe. 
Still in doubt was the fate of Great 
Britain and the French Navy, and Amer- 
ican policy depended to a very large 
degree on these two unknowns. Posses- 
sion of the British and French Fleets 
would give the European Axis naval 
equality with the U.S. Fleet and make 
possible within six months, the time re- 
quired to make the captured fleets oper- 
ational, hostile Axis operations in the 
Western Hemisphere. Since consider- 
able time would be required to mobilize, 
equip, and train American forces, the 
planners asserted that "the date of the 
loss of the British or French Fleets 
automatically sets the date of our 
mobilization." 14 

During the dramatic weeks of May 
and June 1940, the President met with 
his military advisers frequently and dis- 
cussed with them every major develop- 
ment of the war. On 13 June, shortly 
before the fall of France, he called in 
the intelligence chiefs of the Army and 
Navy for an evaluation of the situation, 
posing a number of specific questions. 
This request precipitated an interim 
review of the various courses of action 
open to the United States in the light of 
the rapidly changing situation. As the 
planners saw it, there were three 

1. To maintain a strong position in the 
Pacific and to avoid commitment every- 
where else. 

soon after. It was not approved by the President 
until 14 August. Relevant papers are in JB 325, ser. 

"Joint War Plan Rainbow 4, JB 325, ser. 642—4. 



General Strong 

2. To make every effort, including bellig- 
erent participation, to sustain Great Britain 
and France. 

3. To take whatever measures were re- 
quired to prevent Axis penetration into the 
Western Hemisphere. 15 

All three possibilities had already been 
considered in one or another of the 
Rainbow plans, but, as the planners 
pointed out, the essence of the problem 
now was time. Rainbow 4 was the best 
course to follow in this situation, in 
their view, and the end of British or 
French resistance, they held, should be 
the signal for American mobilization. 

On the morning of 17 June, the day 
after the planners had submitted their 
report, General Marshall discussed the 
problem with his immediate assistants. 
"Are we not forced," he asked, "into a 

"Memo, Sr Army and Navy Members JPC to Dirs 
WPD, 16 Jun 40, WPD 4250-3. 

question of refraining our national 
policy, that is, purely defensive action in 
the Pacific, with a main effort on the 
Atlantic side? We have to be pre- 
pared," Marshall told his staff, "to meet 
the worst situation that may develop, 
that is, if we do not have the Allied fleet 
in the Atlantic." The time had come, 
he thought, to mobilize the National 
Guard and to discontinue shipments to 
England of munitions that would be 
needed for American mobilization. 16 

On the basis of this discussion, the 
Chief of the War Plans Division, Brig. 
Gen. George V. Strong, recommended 
that same day that the Chief of Staff and 
the Chief of Naval Operations propose 
to the President as the basic policy of the 
United States: first, a purely defensive 
position in the Pacific; second, no fur- 
ther commitments for material aid to the 
Allies; and third, immediate mobiliza- 
tion for hemisphere defense. These rec- 
ommendations reflected the pessimistic 
and strongly conservative outlook of the 
Army staff at the time, a view the Army 
planner made no effort to conceal. His 
proposal, Strong stated frankly, was "a 
recognition of the early defeat of the 
Allies, an admission of our inability to 
furnish means in quantities sufficient to 
affect the situation, and an acknowledge- 
ment that we recognize the probability 
that we are next on the list of Axis 
powers. . . ." 1T 

General Marshall and Admiral Stark 
approved General Strong's recommenda- 
tions in principle on 18 June and di- 
rected their planners to outline the 
measures required "to effect an imme- 

Notes on Conf in OCofS, 17 Jun 40, Misc Confs, 
binder 3. 

"Memo, WPD for CofS, 17 Jun 40, sub: National 
Defense Policy, WPD 4250-3. 



diate mobilization of national effort for 
Hemisphere Defense." The result was 
a comprehensive review of national pol- 
icy during the latter part of June by the 
War and Navy Departments, the State 
Department, and the President. With 
the study of the questions proposed by 
Roosevelt on the 13th, this review fur- 
nished an estimate of probable war de- 
velopments and outlined the action 
required for full-scale mobilization and 
for aid to Britain and her allies. Though 
never approved by the President, the 
conclusion of the planners nevertheless 
reflected his views and constituted an 
important milestone in the develop- 
ment of U.S. strategy for World War 

The critical point at issue in the dis- 
cussions was the fate of the French Fleet 
and the future of Great Britain. Mili- 
tary leaders wished to base their plans on 
the worst of all possible contingencies — 
that England, if not the British Empire, 
would be forced out of the war and that 
the French and British Fleets would fall 
to the Axis. The President, on the other 
hand, believed that American action 
should be based on the assumption that 
Great Britain would remain an active 
belligerent and that the military situa- 
tion in Europe would not alter appre- 
ciably in the next six months. He did 
not feel, either, that aid to Britain 
should be cut off entirely, and countered 
the planner's arguments with the obser- 
vation that if a small amount of aid 
would see the British through without 
seriously retarding American prepara- 
tions, then that aid should be furnished. 
Nor was the President willing to put 
the armed forces on a wartime basis or 

"The relevant papers are filed in WPD 4250—3. 

to support full mobilization of man- 
power and industry. He agreed on the 
necessity for defense of the Western 
Hemisphere and the protective occupa- 
tion of European colonial possessions as 
well as other strategic positions in the 
Caribbean area and in Central and South 
America, but only after consultation and 
negotiation with the Latin American 
nations concerned. 

As a result of these discussions, the 
planners recommended that American 
policy be based on the following: 

1. That the British Empire would 
continue to exist in the fall and winter 
of 1940, though Great Britain itself 
might not remain an active combatant. 

2. That France would be occupied by 
German forces, and even if the French 
in North Africa and elsewhere contin- 
ued resistance, U.S. aid would not alter 
substantially the French position. 

3. That U.S. participation in the war 
as an active belligerent could not pre- 
vent the defeat of France or of Great 
Britain at this time. 

This estimate of the situation at the 
end of June, which incorporated the 
President's views, led the planners to 
recommend as the "Basis for Immediate 
Decisions Concerning the National De- 
fense" a defensive in the Pacific, irre- 
spective of the fate of the French Fleet. 
But if that fleet did fall into German 
hands, the planners recognized they 
would have to consider the question of 
whether to move the major portion of 
the U.S. Fleet to the Atlantic. The plan- 
ners thought, too, that the further re : 
lease of war materials needed for 
American forces would seriously weaken 
the United States. But they did not rule 
out altogether aid to Britain and stipu- 
lated, in accordance with Roosevelt's 



wishes, that aid would be given "under 
certain circumstances." 19 

During the summer of 1940, Ameri- 
can policy and strategy were shaped in 
large measure by President Roosevelt's 
conviction that Britain must be en- 
couraged to resist and that the British 
Fleet must not be permitted to fall to 
Germany. In a real sense, therefore, 
American strategy was dependent upon 
British fortunes. Only "one force," said 
Henry Stimson on the day after France's 
surrender, "remained between the Nazis 
and the Western Hemisphere — the Brit- 
ish Fleet." Faced with this "appalling 
prospect," the United States would stand 
alone if that fleet were lost." 20 

Reassurances from the British that 
they had no intention of giving up the 
fight were gratifying to a President so 
closely committed to British support, 
but a more objective estimate of Great 
Britain's ability to resist invasion and 
detailed information on which to base 
plans were needed. To fill this need as 
well as to see for themselves how the 
British were fighting and what they 
needed most, the Army and Navy sent 
special observers to London in the sum- 
mer of 1940 at Mr. Churchill's invita- 
tion. The Army observers were General 
Strong, Chief of the War Plans Division, 
and Maj. Gen. Delos C. Emmons of the 
Air Corps. Both would remain for only 
a few weeks, but the Navy observer, Rear 
Adm. Robert L. Ghormley, was to re- 
main in London on extended duty. 
Already, the British had appointed their 

19 Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 27 Jun 40, 
sub: Basis for Immediate Decisions . . . ; see also pre- 
liminary studies by the planners, with the President's 
comments, in WPT) 4250-3. 

M Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On 
Active Service in Peace and War (New York: Harper 
& Brothers, 1948), pp. 318— ig. 

own Admiralty Committee to consider 
"naval cooperation with the United 
States Navy" in the event of American 
entry into the war, and had made clear 
to the Americans in a general way how 
they intended to fight the war. 21 

'With the arrival of the special observ- 
ers in London in August 1940, the con- 
versations which had been carried on 
informally by the Navy since December 
1937 were broadened to include Army 
representatives and enlarged in scope to 
include basic questions of strategy, com- 
mand arrangements, and materiel re- 
quirements. None of the observers 
doubted the determination of the Brit- 
ish people to continue their resistance. 
In their month in England, Generals 
Emmons and Strong were greatly im- 
pressed by the coolness and confidence 
of the British under attack, and by the 
organization, training, and techniques 
for defense against air attack. 22 British 
faith in the efficacy of air bombardment, 
and the independent position of the 
Royal Air Force had an effect also on the 
two Army observers. Implicit in their 
report was a reflection of the British 
belief that Germany could be so weak- 
ened ultimately by air bombardment as 
to make ground operations on the 
Continent feasible. 

The American observers also learned 
much about British strategy for the con- 
duct of the war. In broad terms, the 
British Chiefs outlined for the Ameri- 
cans their policy for the conduct of the 

1. The security of the United King- 

!1 For a complete account of these developments 
and naval conversations, see Kittredge, U.S. -British 
Naval Cooperation, sec. Ill, pt. A and B. 

"Memo, Emmons and Strong for CofS, 22 Sep 40, 
sub: Observations in England, WPD 4368. 



dom and Imperial possessions and 

2. Command of the home waters and 
the eastern Mediterranean, combined 
with an attempt to regain command o£ 
the entire Mediterranean. 

3. An intensified air offensive and 
economic pressures against both Germany 
and Italy. 

4. Development of resources for major 
offensive ground operations when 
opportunity offered. 23 

In the Far East, the British admitted 
frankly, their interests would be best 
served if the U.S. Fleet remained in the 
Pacific. Their original plan had been to 
send a naval force to the Far East in the 
event of a Japanese attack, but that was 
no longer possible. On the other hand, 
if Japan came into the war and if the 
United States sent a portion of the fleet 
into the Atlantic, British surface vessels 
from the Home Fleet and the force at 
Gibraltar could be sent to the Far East. 
"The support of the American battle 
fleet," observed the British Chief of the 
Air Staff, "would obviously transform 
the whole strategical situation in the 
Far East." 

On the question of American material 
aid, the British were equally frank. In 
response to a question from Admiral 
Ghormley as to whether the British were 
relying on economic support and even- 
tual co-operation of the United States, 
they replied that in the plans for the 
future "we were certainly relying on the 
continued economic and industrial co- 
operation of the United States in ever- 
increasing volume." American supply, 
they declared, was "fundamental to our 
whole strategy." But on the question of 

23 Minutes of the meetings with the British are in 
WPD 4402-1. 

the "eventual active cooperation" of the 
United States, the British Chiefs were 
somewhat evasive. "No account had 
been taken" of this possibility, they told 
the Americans, "since this was clearly a 
matter of high political policy." 

For the British, Germany was clearly 
the main enemy and the "mainspring" 
of the Axis effort in Europe. Arguing 
from this basis, the British insisted that 
"whatever action may be necessary 
against any other country must, there- 
fore, be related to our main object, 
which is the defeat of Germany" — a 
statement that came very close to the 
basic strategic decision of World War II. 
And when Admiral Ghormley asked the 
British how they expected to defeat 
Germany and whether the final issue 
would be decided on land, they replied 
that "in the long run it was inevitable 
that the Army should deliver the coup 
de grace." But they hoped that the 
Army's task could be made considerably 
easier by "a serious weakening in the 
morale and fighting efficiency of the 
German machine, if not a complete 
breakdown." How this would be accom- 
plished, the British did not specify, but. 
their emphasis on bombardment indi- 
cated that air power would certainly play 
a leading role in the defeat of Germany. 

Shift to the Atlantic, September 1940- 
January ig^i 

Events in Europe after June 1940 
gave hope for a brighter future than had 
seemed possible after the German of- 
fensive in April and May. The success 
of the British in beating off the attacks 
of the Luftwaffe and the reports of the 
special observers led to a more favorable 
program of support for the British war 



effort and to other measures such as the 
transfer of fifty old destroyers in return 
for a lease on British air and naval base 
sites in British possessions in the west- 
ern Atlantic. For the moment, the Axis 
threat in Europe seemed to be blunted. 

Meanwhile, the situation in the Far 
East had taken a turn for the worse. On 
22 September, Japanese troops entered 
northern Indochina, and five days later 
the Japanese Government announced its 
adherence to the Rome-Berlin Axis. 
Just two days before the signing of the 
Tripartite Pact, the Army planners had 
completed a report on the ability of the 
United States to cope with the problems 
presented by the Axis threat. After re- 
viewing the possibilities in Europe, the 
planners pointed out that the United 
States might soon face renewed advances 
in the Far East, possibly against the 
Netherlands Indies or the Philippines, 
but that it would not be possible to op- 
pose such moves by a major effort in the 
Pacific in view of the greater danger in 
the Atlantic. Operations in the Pacific, 
they maintained, should be held to the 
minimum. 24 

There was general agreement in Wash- 
ington with this view. The main prob- 
lem was how to avoid a conflict with 
Japan and at the same time maintain 
American interests and defend American 
possessions in the Far East. The answer 
perhaps lay in Europe, for there was 
strong reason to believe that Japan 
would take no overt military action 
against the United States or Great 
Britain until German victory seemed 
fissured. This line of reasoning served 
to strengthen the view that as long as 
Great Britain was in danger, the United 

"Memo, WPD for CofS, as Sep 40, sub: Problem 
of Production . . . , WPD 4321-9. 

States should remain on the defensive 
in the Pacific. It was also a powerful 
argument for continued aid to Britain, 
and for opposition to any move that 
might risk serious hostilities with the 

Early in October, the entire subject 
of American policy toward Japan was 
reviewed on the highest level in Wash- 
ington. Inevitably the question of Brit- 
ish co-operation arose. The military 
chiefs opposed strong action on the 
ground that the British would be unable 
to send any forces into the area and that 
the United States could not undertake 
to assume Allied obligations in the Far 
East. Despite the well-known views of 
the American staff, the British continued . 
their efforts to persuade the Americans 
to join the defense of their Far Eastern 
possessions by sending naval units to 
Singapore. In May 1940, Churchill had 
offered to let the Americans use Singa- 
pore "in any way convenient" in order, 
as he put it, to "keep the Japanese quiet 
in the Pacific." On 4 October he tried 
again. In a strong personal message to 
President Roosevelt discussing the Far 
Eastern situation, he asked, "Would it 
not be possible for you to send an Amer- 
ican Squadron, the bigger the better, to 
pay a friendly visit to Singapore? There 
they would be welcomed in a perfectly 
normal and rightful way." 25 

Both Admiral Stark and General Mar- 
shall were opposed to the dispatch of an 
American naval force to Singapore and 
agreed that the greater danger was in 
the eastern Atlantic. Secretary Hull also 
opposed the move. As he told the Brit- 
ish Ambassador, "It will not be wise, 

"The message is quoted in Winston S. Churchill, 
Their Finest Hour (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Com- 
pany, 1949), pp, 497-98. 



even from the British standpoint, for 
two wars to be raging at the same time, 
one in the East and the other in the 
West. If this country should enter any 
war, this would immediately result in 
greatly cutting off military supplies to 
Great Britain." 26 The move would be 
politically inexpedient also, for this was 
an election year and Roosevelt was al- 
ready in the midst of a campaign for 
election to a third term. A military 
gesture such as Churchill had proposed 
was likely to lose more votes than it 
would gain. Thus, on grounds of politi- 
cal expediency as well as strategy, the 
President turned down Mr. Churchill's 

Yet developments since the summer 
of 1940 had made the need for a closer 
co-ordination of British and American 
plans increasingly evident. Almost every 
important problem faced by the military 
planners raised questions that could not 
be settled without an intimate knowl- 
edge of British capabilities and plans. 
But the hectic months of a Presidential 
campaign and the uncertainty of the 
outcome discouraged any serious effort 
to lay the basis for such co-ordination. 
By early November, President Roose- 
velt's re-election seemed certain and on 
the eve of the election Admiral Stark 
made the first bid for a firm and clear 
statement of American policy that would 
provide the basis for co-ordinated U.S.- 
British plans. 27 It was the strongest and 
most comprehensive analysis thus far of 

"Memoirs of Cordell Hull, I, 906. 

"Memo, Stark for Secy Navy, 12 Nov 40, no sub. 
This is a revision of the original 4 November memo- 
randum, no copies of which are in the Army file, 
revised to include the Army WPD comments and 
sent to the President. All papers relevant to this 
memo are filed in WPD 4175—15. 

the various courses of action open to the 
United States, the military effect of devel- 
opments in Europe and Asia, and the 
close relationship between British for- 
tunes and American policy. Known as 
the "Plan Dog" memorandum because 
the recommended course of action if the 
United States became a belligerent was 
contained in paragraph D ("Dog" in 
military parlance) , Admiral Stark's study 
constitutes perhaps the most important 
single document in the development of 
World War II strategy. 

The central point of Admiral Stark's 
analysis was the recognition that Ameri- 
can security depended to a very large 
extent on the fate of Great Britain. This 
note he sounded at the very outset with 
the assertion that "if Britain wins deci- 
sively against Germany we could win 
everywhere; but that if she loses the 
problems confronting us would be very 
great; and while we might not lose 
everywhere, we might, possibly, not win 
anywhere." Should the British Empire 
collapse, it seemed probable to Stark 
that the victorious Axis powers would 
seek to expand their control, economi- 
cally at first and then politically and 
militarily, into the Western Hemisphere. 
The military consequences of a British 
defeat were so serious for the United 
States, Stark declared, that the British 
ought to be assisted in every way pos- 
sible. He did not believe, either, that 
Britain had the manpower or material 
resources to conquer Germany alone. 
Assistance by powerful allies would be 
necessary ultimately, and to be ready for 
this eventuality Britain "must not only 
continue to maintain the blockade, but 
she must also retain intact geographi- 
cal positions from which successful land 
actions can later be launched." 



In facing the consequences of close 
co-operation with the British, Admiral 
Stark boldly raised the possibility — thus 
far avoided — of active American partici- 
pation in the war. Since Britain could 
not herself defeat Germany, the question 
was how American resources in men and 
supplies could be employed in combina- 
tion with the British to achieve this end. 
Admiral Ghormley, it will be recalled, 
had raised this question with the British 
in London in August, asking whether 
large-scale ground operations would be 
necessary. He had received an affirma- 
tive reply from the British then, and 
Stark now returned to this point. 
Blockade and bombardment, the means 
favored by the British, he did not think 
would do the job. The only certain 
way of defeating Germany was "by mili- 
tary success on shore," and for that, 
bases close to the European continent 
would be required. "I believe," Stark 
declared, "that the United States, in 
addition to sending naval assistance, 
would also need to send large air and 
land forces to Europe or Africa, or both, 
and to participate strongly in this land 

Considering the importance of the 
Atlantic to American security, Stark 
argued strongly against major commit- 
ments in the far Pacific that would in- 
volve the United States in an all-out 
effort against Japan, as envisaged in 
Orange. Such a course would have the 
effect of drawing resources away from 
the Atlantic and cutting down aid to 
Britain. Even a limited war against 
Japan would require strong reinforce- 
ments in the Southwest Pacific and 
Southeast Asia to defend British and 
Dutch possessions. Also, it might prove 
very difficult indeed to prevent a lim- 

ited war from becoming unlimited, as 
the Japanese later found out. Nor did 
Stark see how the defeat of Japan, even 
if this could be accomplished, would 
contribute materially to the more im- 
portant objectives of the defense of the 
Western Hemisphere and the continued 
existence of the British Empire. To per- 
form all the tasks required to achieve 
these objectives, the United States could 
"do little more in the Pacific than remain 
on a strict defensive." 

The major alternative courses of ac- 
tion open to the United States, as Stark 
viewed the possibilities, were four, and 
he stated them as questions: 

A. Shall our principal military effort be 
directed toward hemisphere defense and 
security in both oceans? (Similar to 
Rainbow's i and 4.) 

B. Shall we prepare for a full offensive 
against Japan, premised on assistance from 
the British and Dutch forces in the Far 
East and remain on the strict defensive in 
the Atlantic? (Similar to Rainbow 2, or 
Rainbow 3 and Orange with allies.) 

C. Shall wc plan for sending the strong- 
est possible military assistance both to the 
British in Europe and to the British, Dutch 
and Chinese in the Far East? (In effect, this 
would call for an equal effort on two fronts 
while defending the Western Hemisphere.) 

D. Shall we direct our efforts toward an 
eventual strong offensive in the Atlantic as 
an ally of the British, and a defensive in the 
Pacific? (Similar to Rainbow 5.) 

There was no doubt in Admiral 
Stark's mind that the alternative out- 
lined in paragraph "Dog" would best 
serve the national interests. It would 
enable the United States to exert all its 
effort in a single direction, make pos- 
sible the greatest assistance to Britain, 
and provide the strongest defense of the 
Western Hemisphere. The one great 
disadvantage of the Plan Dog, of course, 



was that it would leave Japan free to 
pursue her program of expansion in Asia 
and the Southwest Pacific. Therefore the 
United States, while making every effort 
to avoid war with Japan, should seek to 
keep that nation from occupying British 
and Dutch possessions in the Far East. 

Plan Dog was the course to be fol- 
lowed in the event of war — and Stark 
seemed to have little doubt that the 
United States would soon be involved 
in the European conflict. But if war did 
not come, or, as he put it "until such 
time as the United States should decide 
to engage its full forces in war," the best 
course to follow would be that outlined 
in paragraph A, that is, to build up the 
defenses of the Western Hemisphere and 
stand ready to fight off a threat in either 

Admiral Stark also had a program for 
carrying out the policy he proposed. 
The first step would be to prepare a 
joint plan as a guide for Army and Navy 
planning, and at least the "skeleton" of 
alternative plans for other situations 
that might develop. Such plans, how- 
ever, would be of limited value, he 
pointed out, if there was not a "clear 
understanding between the nations in- 
volved as to the strength and extent of 
the participation which may be expected 
in any particular theater. . . ." For this 
reason, therefore, Stark recommended 
that secret staff talks be initiated with 
British military and naval authorities 
"to reach agreements and lay down plans 
for promoting unity of allied effort 
should the United States find it necessary 
to enter the war." 28 

s The British had already suggested such conversa- 
tions on various occasions. The most recent sug- 
gestions were made in October by the British 

The reaction of General Marshall and 
the Army planners to Plan Dog was en- 
tirely favorable. As a matter of fact, the 
Army had argued substantially along 
these lines in June 1940, when the pros- 
pect of an Axis victory in Europe had 
seemed so great, and General Marshall 
had then asked whether it would not 
be advisable to reframe U.S. naval pol- 
icy so as to place the main effort in the 
Atlantic with "purely defensive action in 
the Pacific." 29 Thus, except for minor 
comments, the Army planners endorsed 
the Stark proposals, which went forward 
to the President on 13 November. On 
the 18th, the Joint Board instructed its 
planning committee to study the ques- 
tions raised by Admiral Stark and pre- 
pare recommendations for submission to 
the President and the two service 
Secretaries. 30 

The British, who presumably learned 
of Plan Dog from 'Admiral Ghormley, 
also agreed with Admiral Stark. Since 
the plan was based so largely on the need 
to maintain the British Empire, this is 
not surprising. Churchill thought the 
plan "strategically sound" and "highly 
adapted to our interests," as indeed it 
was, but only because of the identity of 
British and American interests. He was 
"much encouraged by the American 
naval view," and cautioned his staff "to 
strengthen the policy of Admiral Stark" 

Ambassador to Secretary Hull in Washington, and by 
Admiral Sir Dudley Pound to Ghormley in London. 

"Notes of Conf in OCS, 17 Jun 40, sub: Defense 
Problems, OCS Misc Confs. 

30 Ltr, CofS to JB, 18 Nov 40, sub: National De- 
fense Policy for the United States, JB 325, ser. 670; 
Memos, WPD for CofS, 13 Nov 40, sub: National 
Policy of the U.S.; Secy, Gen Staff for WPD, same 
date, no sub; CofS for Secy War, same date, no sub. 
All in WPD 4175-15. 



and "not use arguments inconsistent with 
it." 31 Apparently the British Chiefs took 
this advice seriously for on 23 Novem- 
ber Admiral Ghormley reported to Stark 
that in the view of the Admiralty, which 
he believed to be the view of the British 
Government, "the primary objective of 
the war is the defeat of Germany and 
Italy," and that in case Japan and the 
United States should enter the war, U.S.- 
British strategy in the Pacific should be 
to contain the Japanese and prevent ex- 
tension of the operations to the south 
and to the Indian Ocean. 32 But the Brit- 
ish clung to their faith in Singapore, and 
still hoped the United States would send 
a naval force there to hold it against the 

While arrangements went forward for 
conversations with the British, the joint 
planners continued their efforts to pro- 
duce a statement of national defense 
policy based on Admiral Stark's recom- 
mendation. If acceptable, this document 
was to be submitted for approval to the 
President by the Secretaries of State, 
War, and Navy, and serve as the basis 
for instructions to the American repre- 
sentatives in the forthcoming staff con- 
versations. On 21 December 1940, the 
joint planners completed their work. In 
all essential respects, their recommenda- 
tions were similar to those of Admiral 
Stark. The major objective of U.S. 
defense policy, they said, was the secu- 
rity of the Western Hemisphere, and 
this was to be secured by full co- 
operation with the British Common- 

81 Churchill, Their Finest Hour, pp. 690-91. The 
quotations are from his message of 22 November 
1940 to the First Sea Lord. 

a! Ghormley to Stark, 23 Nov 40, quoted in Kitt- 
redge, LLS.British Naval Relations, se. Ill pt. D, p. 
313, and Notes, app. B. Records of Admiralty 
Meeting, 2a Nov 40. 

wealth. Until forced to enter the war, 
the United States should follow the 
course advocated in paragraph A of 
Stark's memorandum; if forced into war 
with Japan, the United States should at 
the same time enter the war in the 
Atlantic and limit operations in the mid- 
Pacific and Far East so as "to permit 
prompt movement to the Atlantic of 
forces fully adequate to conduct a major 
offensive in that ocean." 33 American pol- 
icy and strategy, therefore, would be 
designed to defeat Germany and her 
allies in order to prevent the extension 
of Axis influence into the Western Hem- 
isphere, while seeking to keep the Japa- 
nese from entering the war or from 
attacking British and Dutch territory in 
the Far East. 

The Joint Board approved the work 
of its planners on 2 1 December, and the 
Secretaries of War and Navy gave their 
approval soon after. The original inten- 
tion was to have the Secretary of State 
join the two service Secretaries in sub- 
mitting these recommendations to the 
President for his approval as the basis 
for future action by all agencies of the 
government. But Mr. Hull refused. He 
was in general agreement with these pol- 
icies, he declared, but was doubtful of 
the propriety of "joining in the submis- 
sion to the President of a technical mili- 
tary statement of the present situation." 34 

Arrangements for staff conferences 
with the British were completed early 
in January 1941, and on the 15th of the 
month the British delegation left for the 

33 Ltr, JPC to JB, 21 Dec 40, sub: National Defense 
Policy for the U.S., JB 325, ser. 670. Earlier drafts 
and directives are in the same file. See also relevant 
papers in WPD 4175-15 and JB 325, ser. 674. 

"Memo, Brig Gen Leonard T. Gerow for CofS, 3 
Jan 41, sub: Conf with Secy State, WPD 4175-15. 



United States. There had been prelimi- 
nary exchanges of view by cable and a 
proposed set of instructions had been 
prepared for the American representa- 
tives. But the military authorities still 
did not have President Roosevelt's 
approval of the recommended national 
defense policy, which was to constitute 
the guide lines for the American dele- 
gates. Finally, on 16 January, the Presi- 
dent met with his military advisers, the 
two Secretaries and the service Chiefs. 
Present at the meeting also was the Sec- 
retary of State, who, with the others 
constituted a group known informally 
as the "War Council." 

The meeting opened with a considera- 
tion of the problems raised by the possi- 
bility of simultaneous action by Germany 
and Japan against the United States. 
The President thought there was only 
"one chance in five" of such an attack 
but he avoided any. commitment on the 
basic question of whether to plan for 
a major effort in the Atlantic or Pacific. 
On one point, though, he left no doubt. 
There was to be no curtailment of aid 
to Britain, even in the event of a con- 
certed attack in the Atlantic and Pacific. 
Clearly, the President's major concern 
was with Great Britain. In that sense, 
he was of the same mind as his chief 
military and civilian advisers. He 
thought the Navy should be prepared 
to convoy shipping in the Atlantic and 
continue to patrol the coast. But he was 
equally anxious that the Army should 
not be committed to any operations until 
it was fully prepared, and that American 
military policy should be "very conserv- 
ative" until its strength had been greatly 
increased. In Latin America, the United 
States would have to be prepared, the 
President declared, to provide forces, 

properly trained, to assist the govern- 
ments in their resistance to subversive 
Axis activity. 

The President's view of American pol- 
icy in the Pacific coincided closely with 
that of the military authorities. There 
the United States would stand on the 
defensive with the fleet based on Hawaii. 
There was to be no naval reinforce- 
ment of the Philippines, and the Com- 
mander of the Asiatic Fleet, based in 
the Philippines, was to have discretion- 
ary authority in the event of attack to 
withdraw when he thought it necessary. 
The choice was his and it would be up 
to him to decide whether to sail east 
toward Pearl Harbor or south to 
Singapore, as the British wished. 35 

By the middle of January 1941, the 
major lines of American strategy in 
World War II had emerged and the re- 
election of President Roosevelt assured 
a continuation of the policy established 
during the critical summer months of 
1940. While hoping to achieve his aims 
by measures short of war, the President 
had publicly stressed during the preced- 
ing months America's unreadiness for 
war and the danger from Europe and 
the Far East. Army and Navy planners 
had defined the problem facing the 
United States in a series of studies, and 
had made plans to meet various situa- 
tions which might arise. The most likely 
contingency in early 1941 was that the 
United States, allied with Great Britain, 
might be involved in a two-ocean war 
against a combination of Germany, Italy, 
and Japan. In such a contingency, it 
was generally agreed, the United States 
would adopt a defensive role in the 
Pacific and make its main effort against 

"Memo, CofS for WPD, 17 Jan 41, sub: White 
House ConE of 16 Jan 41, WPD 4175—18. 



the most powerful and dangerous enemy, 
Germany. But before firm plans could 
be made, it was first necessary to reach 
agreement with Great Britain on the 
broad aims of the war and the major 
outlines of strategy. 


During the first three weeks of Janu- 
ary 1941 the planners of the Joint Board 
completed their arrangements for the 
American- British staff conference. On 
2 1 January, they submitted to the board 
a proposed agenda for the meetings and 
a statement of the American position. 
The meetings were to be nonpolitical; 
no specific commitments were to be made 
"except as to technical method of coop- 
eration," and agreements reached would 
be subject to approval by the two gov- 
ernments. Within this framework, the 
delegates were to determine the best 
methods by which the forces of both 
nations could defeat Germany and its 
allies should the United States be "com- 
pelled to resort to war" — a phrase intro- 
duced by the President; reach agreement 
on the methods and nature of military 
co-operation; and co-ordinate plans for 
the use of their forces. 

As a guide for the delegates, American 
national objectives were defined in vir- 
tually the same terms used by Admiral 
Stark: (1) protection of the Western 
Hemisphere against military or political 
encroachment by any other power; (2) 
aid to the British Commonwealth; (3) 
opposition by diplomatic means to Japa- 
nese expansion. In the event of war, the 
"broad military objective" of the United 
States and Britain would be the defeat 
of Germany, which would be "most effec- 
tively attained" by placing the principal 

military effort in the Atlantic, or "naval- 
ly in the Mediterranean" — another Pres- 
idential phrase. In the way of practical 
advice in negotiating with the British, 
the delegates were to keep the following 
in mind: 

It is believed that we cannot afford, nor 
do we need, to entrust our national future 
to British direction. . . . 

United States Army and Navy officials 
are in rather general agreement that Great 
Britain cannot encompass the defeat of Ger- 
many unless the United States provides that 
nation with direct military assistance. . . . 

It is to be expected, that proposals of the 
British representatives will have been drawn 
up with chief regard for the support of the 
British Commonwealth. Never absent from 
British minds are their postwar interests, 
commercial and military. We should like- 
wise safeguard our own eventual interests. 36 

The Joint Board gave its approval to 
these instructions and procedures on 22 
January, submitting them in turn to the 
Secretaries of War and the Navy with 
the suggestion that the statement defin- 
ing the military position and strategy 
governing the action of U.S. forces be 
approved by the President. As a result 
Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox per- 
sonally submitted the report to the Presi- 
ident on the 23d and three days later 
Roosevelt approved it with minor 
changes in wording. 37 

The American-British staff conversa- 
tions opened in Washington on 29 Janu- 
ary 1 94 1 and continued through fourteen 
sessions to 29 March, when the dele- 

88 JPC to JB, 21 Jan 41, sub: Joint Instr for Army 
and Navy Representatives . . . , JB 325, ser. 674. The 
Presidential changes were made on 26 January; see 
note 37. 

"Memo, FDR for Secy Navy, 26 Jan 41, JB 325, 
Ser. 674; Mins, JB Mtg, 22 Jan 41. 



gates submitted a final report, commonly 
known as ABC-i . 3S 

At the outset, the British stated their 
position clearly and fully: 

1 . The European Theater is the vital the- 
ater where a decision must first be sought. 

2. The general policy should therefore 
be to defeat Germany and Italy first, and 
then deal with Japan. 

3. The security of the Far Eastern posi- 
tion, including Australia and New Zealand, 
is essential to the cohesion of the British 
Commonwealth and to the maintenance of 
its war effort. Singapore is the key to the 
defense of these interests and its retention 
must be assured. 

In line with this strategy, U.S. naval 
forces, after appropriate dispositions for 
defense of the Western Hemisphere, 
should be employed mainly in the Atlan- 
tic and Mediterranean, the British stated. 
But they also declared that the United 
States should maintain in the Pacific a 
fleet large enough to prevent the Japa- 
nese from prejudicing the main effort in 
the Atlantic. 

There was no disagreement between 
the Americans and the British on the 
first two points. Both sides were agreed 
that Germany was the main enemy and 
the first objective of the allies. They 
agreed further that the Atlantic would 
be the decisive theater of the war and 
the principal effort of the two nations 
would be made there. The delegates 
also recognized the legitimate interests 
of each side, an indispensable basis for 
co-operation. On the American side, the 
security of the United States and the 
defense of the Western Hemisphere were 

M Papers relating to the meeting are located in 
OPD Exec Files, item 11, Exec 4 and WPD 4402—1 
passim. The report itselE is found in several files, but 
is available in printed form in Pearl Harbor Attack 
Hearings, exhibit 49, pt. 15, pp. 1485-1542. 

considered of paramount interest, with 
first call on American forces. British 
interests were broader, encompassing the 
security of the British Commonwealth 
of Nations. "A cardinal feature of British 
strategic policy," the delegates agreed, 
"is the retention of a position in the Far 
East such as will insure cohesion and 
security of the British Commonwealth 
and the maintenance of its war effort." 

The third point of British strategy, the 
importance of Singapore, involved the 
whole question of Far Eastern strategy. 
On this, there was a fundamental dis- 
agreement between the British and 
American delegates. This disagreement 
stemmed partly from different national 
interests. The British had to deal with 
problems of imperial security, and in 
their view Singapore was essential to the 
defense of India, Australia, and New 
Zealand. American interests in the Far 
East, though substantial, were not as 
vital. The only American possession of 
importance in the area, the Philippines, 
had virtually been written off as 
indefensible in a war with Japan. 

There was a basic difference in out- 
look also between the British and Amer- 
icans. Reflecting their insular position 
and long tradition in wars against Con- 
tinental powers, the British placed their 
main emphasis on sea and air power 
rather than large-scale ground forces. 
The reduction of Germany by these 
means would be a slow process, but the 
British were accustomed to long wars 
and had no doubt of ultimate victory. 
The final blow, they expected, would 
be delivered by ground armies, but to 
prepare for that eventuality they would 
first secure or regain the strategic posi- 
tions required for the offensive — Singa- 
pore, the Mediterranean — and then con- 



centrate on weakening the enemy's war 
machine. Victory with minimum losses 
and minimum risks, exploitation of supe- 
rior naval power, and avoidance of large- 
scale continental operations — that was 
the classic British strategy. 

The Americans, conscious of their 
overwhelming material resources and 
unwilling to face the prospects of a 
long war, wished to concentrate all their 
power at the earliest possible moment 
against the main enemy. To achieve 
this aim and end the war quickly with 
fewer casualties in the long run, they 
were willing to face the temporary loss 
of strategic positions like the Philippines 
and to risk substantial casualties initially 
rather than disperse their forces or adopt 
a purely defensive or delaying strategy. 

These differences emerged sharply in 
the discussions over Singapore. What 
the British were asking the Americans 
to do was to underwrite the defense of 
the Empire and incorporate, as a central 
feature of Allied strategy, the British 
concept of the importance of Singapore 
as the key to defense of the Far East, 
even at the expense of concentrating for 
a decisive blow against Germany at the 
earliest possible date. Though the 
Americans appreciated the political, eco- 
nomic, and symbolic significance of Sin- 
gapore for the British Empire, they 
doubted its strategic value and the wis- 
dom of underwriting its defense. To 
accept the British proposal would not 
only have been contrary to their instruc- 
tions but would constitute, the Ameri- 
can delegates believed, "a strategic error 
of incalculable magnitude." 39 They 
therefore refused to budge from the posi- 
tion that the British must look after 

"Memo, Army Delegates for CofS, 12 Feb 41, sub: 
Dispatch of U.S. Forces to Singapore, WPD 4402-3. 

their own special interests, as the United 
States would look after its own in the 
Philippines, and that the two nations 
should act together where their interests 
coincided — in the North Atlantic and 
the British Isles. 

The report submitted by the Ameri- 
can and British delegates laid down the 
basic guide lines of Allied co-operation 
in World War II. It defined clearly the 
policies, the "paramount interests" of 
both countries, and the general strategic 
concepts designed to support these poli- 
cies. Among the major strategic objec- 
tives accepted by both sides were the 

1. The early defeat of Germany as 
the predominant member of the Axis, 
with the principal military effort of the 
United States being exerted in the Atlan- 
tic and European area, the decisive thea- 
ter. Operations in other theaters to be 
conducted in such a manner as to 
facilitate the main effort. 

2. The maintenance of British and 
Allied positions in the Mediterranean 

3. A strategic defensive in the Far 
East, with the U.S. Fleet employed offen- 
sively "in the manner best calculated to 
weaken Japanese economic power, and 
to support the defense of the Malay 
Barrier by directing Japanese strength 
away from Malaysia." 

To secure these objectives, the dele- 
gates agreed on a number of specific 
measures, including economic pressure, 
a sustained air offensive against German 
military power, the early elimination of 
Italy from the war, raids and minor 
offensives at every opportunity, and the 
support of resistance movements in Axis- 
dominated countries. All these would 
be preparatory to the final offensive 



against Germany. For that it would be 
necessary to secure bases in the Medi- 
terranean and on the west and north- 
west shores of Europe, and to gather 
"maximum land forces, composed large- 
ly of mobile armored divisions" to defeat 
and destroy the German Army. 

The agreements reached between the 
American and British staffs and embod- 
ied in ABC-i were not intended to be 
binding on the two nations or to have 
any political or official character, but 
only to determine the way in which the 
United States and the British Common- 
wealth could defeat Germany "should 
the United States be compelled to resort 
to war." From the start it was under- 
stood that conclusions reached by the 
conferees would have to be confirmed by 
the Chiefs of Staff of both nations and 
were contingent upon political agree- 
ments by the two governments. In line 
with this understanding, General Mar- 
shall and Admiral Stark gave their ten- 
tative approval to the report and advised 
the British Chiefs that they would pre- 
sent it to the President for approval at 
an appropriate time. 40 At the same time, 
the Joint Board issued a new directive 
for the preparation of Rainbow 5, the 
situation most closely meeting the 
requirements laid down in ABC-i. 

Work on Rainbow 5 had been ini- 
tiated originally in May 1940, after the 
German offensive in the west but before 
the fall of France. The situation envis- 
aged then in Rainbow 5 was a war in 
which the United States, allied with 
Great Britain and France, would pro- 
ject its armed forces "to either or both 

"Ltr, CofS and CNO to Special Army and Navy 
Observers in London, 4 Apr 41, sub: Tentative Ap- 
proval of ABC— 1, WPD 4402-18. See notation on 
Copy 98, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 15, 1485. 

of the African and European continents 
as rapidly as possible" to accomplish the 
decisive defeat of Germany. The plan- 
ning done in May on this basis was 
rendered obsolete within a month by 
the fall of France. Moreover, it seemed 
doubtful at the time that Great Britain 
would survive, and the planners turned 
their efforts to other Rainbow situations 
— first Rainbow 4 (hemisphere defense) , 
and then Rainbow 3 (United States 
alone in a major effort against Japan) . 
By the end of 1940, when it appeared 
that Britain would survive and a revised 
Rainbow 5 situation was the most likely 
contingency for which to plan, arrange- 
ments were already under way for the 
American-British staff conversations. 

Once the Chief of Staff and Chief of 
Naval Operations had given their 
approval to ABC-i, work on Rainbow 
5 progressed rapidly. By 30 April, the 
Army and Navy had agreed on a joint 
plan and on that date submitted their 
work to the Joint Board. For the pur- 
poses of this plan, the Allies — Associated 
Powers, they were called — were assumed 
to be the United States, the British Com- 
monwealth (less Eire) , the Netherlands 
Indies, Greece, Yugoslavia, China, the 
Governments-in-Exile, and the Free 
French; the Axis nations, Germany, 
Italy, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and 
possibly Japan and Thailand. These 
last two, even if they were not in the 
war initially, were potential enemies and 
the possibility of their intervention was 
therefore taken into account in the 
plan. 41 

Rainbow 5 was virtually identical 
with ABC-i. As a matter of fact, one 
of the first assumptions of the plan was 

■"Ltr, JPC to JB, 30 Apr 41, sub: Joint Basic War 
Plan Rainbow 5, incl A, JB 325, ser. 642-5. 



that the Allies would conduct the war 
"in accord with ABC-i." Thus, the 
strategic concepts, supporting measures, 
and missions enumerated in ABC-i were 
repeated almost verbatim in Rainbow 5. 
For the U.S. Army, "the primary imme- 
diate effort" would be to build up large 
land and air forces "for major offensive 
operations against the Axis powers" and 
other operations were to be restricted to 
those that would "not materially delay 
this effort," Just what these operations 
would consist of was not specified, al- 
though reference was made, as in ABC-i, 
to a large-scale attack by ground forces 
against Germany and to the capture of 
bases from which to launch such an 
offensive. As one of the Army planners 
explained at the time, " a plan must 
be formulated upon a situation and no 
prediction of the situation which will 
exist when such a plan can be 
implemented should be made." 42 

Rainbow 5 was neither a blueprint 
for victory nor a plan of operations. It 
merely outlined the objectives and mis- 
sions of American forces in case of war 
on the basis of assumptions that seemed 
sound at the time. Specific plans to 
achieve these objectives were still to be 
made. The first step was to secure 
authority to proceed. 

Joint Board authority came on 14 May 
when the board formally approved both 
Rainbow 5 and ABC-i, which it had 
tentatively approved early in April. 
Approval by the Secretaries came on 28 
May (Navy) and 2 June (Army) , at 
which time both plans went to the Presi- 
dent, with the explanation that the Brit- 

42 Memo, WPD for CofS (May 1941), sub: Analy- 
sis of Plans for Overseas Expeditions, cited in Mat- 
loff and Sncll, Strategic Planning 1941—1942, pp. 

ish Chiefs of Staff had approved ABC-i 
provisionally and submitted it to their 
government for approval. The President 
apparently read the two documents care- 
fully but withheld approval of ABC-i 
on the ground that the British had not 
yet approved it. Nor would he approve 
Rainbow 5, presumably because it was 
based on ABC-i, that is, on arrange- 
ments with the British which had not 
yet been accepted by that government. 
He did request, however, that "in case 
of war" the two plans be returned to 
him for his approval. 43 

The President's ambiguous response 
to the carefully worked out arrange- 
ments with the British, and to the Amer- 
ican plans based on these arrangements, 
raised the question of whether the Army 
and Navy were authorized to proceed 
with their own planning for war on a 
Rainbow 5 contingency. This question 
was resolved on 10 June at a meeting 
in Mr. Stimson's office. General Mar- 
shall's view was that since the President 
had not disapproved the plan, the Army 
could proceed with its own arrange- 
ments. This seemed reasonable, and it 
was on that basis that the services pro- 
ceeded to make detailed plans for the 
employment of their forces. 44 

By the middle of 1941 American pol- 
icy and military strategy had subordi- 
nated the Pacific to a secondary position, 
while maintaining that the United States 
would defend its overseas possessions and 
its interests in the Far East. The danger 
of war with Japan was a real one, but 

"Mins, JB Mtg, 14 May. The correspondence 
relating to the approval by the Secretaries and the 
statement recording the President's reaction are filed 
in JB 325, ser. 642-5. 

"Mins, Conf Office, Secy War, 10 Tun 41, WDCSA, 
Secy of War Confs, I. 



in the face of the greater threat from 
Germany it had been decided to place 
the main effort in the Atlantic and to 
restrain Japan by political and economic 
means. If Japan did attack, the United 
States would have to limit itself to the 
defense of that area in the Pacific vital 
to its security, Alaska-Hawaii-Panama, 
and accept the loss of the Philippines, 
Wake, and Guam. But there were some 
who still believed that the Philippines 
could and should be reinforced and that 
the obligation of the United States to 
the Filipinos and its position in the Far 
East transcended the logic of the military 

The circumstances under which a war 
with Japan would begin were not yet 
known and, except for local defense 
plans, there was no settled solution on 
a plan to defeat Japan. The general 
pattern of the war and the courses of 
action open to American forces had been 
fixed over a long period of time. That 

the fleet would advance step by step 
across the Pacific through the Mandated 
Islands, specifically the Marshalls and 
the Carolines, to the Philippines, and 
that it would then seek to establish 
supremacy in the western Pacific was 
well understood and accepted. But be- 
yond the general statement that Japan 
would be brought to her knees by eco- 
nomic pressure, blockade, and air bom- 
bardment, there was no specific plan for 
operations to defeat the enemy. More- 
over, though it was assumed that Brit- 
ish, Dutch, and Chinese forces would 
fight the common enemy, there were 
no plans for concerted action and there 
was still disagreement between the Amer- 
ican and British planners over the role 
of Singapore. There was much still to 
be done — forces to be raised, weapons 
produced, and plans written. Until then, 
the United States would have to restrain 
an increasingly aggressive Japan by all 
means short of war. 


The Fatal Turn 

Be audacious and cunning in your plans, firm and persevering in their 
execution, determined to find a glorious end. 


The summer of 1941 was a crucial one 
for both Japan and the United States. 
Over a period of several years American 
planners had devised a strategy designed 
to protect the Western Hemisphere 
against Axis aggression and, if the United 
States was forced into war, to throw the 
bulk of its resources against Germany. 
But this strategy assumed, first, that 
Japan could be deterred from aggression 
by means short of war, and second, that 
in the event hostilities in the Far East 
could not be avoided, the United States 
would accept the loss of American terri- 
tory in that area. The planners, unwill- 
ing to face the unpleasant prospect of 
large-scale military operations in the 
western Pacific, accepted these assump- 
tions. But there were many, including 
the President and his Secretary of War, 
who found the conclusions of military 
logic distasteful and sought a way out 
of the dilemma. The solution provided 
by the advocates of air power turned 
American eyes once more to the Far 

The crisis facing the Japanese leaders 
was more serious. In their view the very 
existence of the nation depended on 
their decisions. There seemed to be no 
way to end the war in China and eco- 
nomic restrictions were crippling their 

efforts to stockpile strategic materials 
and prepare the nation for any eventu- 
ality. Japan was truly at the crossroad. 

The July Crisis 

Negotiations to settle the issues 
between Japan and the United States 
had been in progress since February 1941 
when Ambassador Nomura had arrived 
in Washington. By summer, little prog- 
ress had been made. The American posi- 
tion had been denned early in the 
conversations by Mr. Hull: 

(1) Respect for the territorial integ- 
rity and the sovereignty of each and all 

(2) Support of the principle of non- 
interference in the internal affairs of 
other countries. 

(3) Support of the principle of equal- 
ity, including equality of commercial 

(4) Nondisturbance of the status quo 
in the Pacific except as the status quo 
may be altered by peaceful means. 

But so long as the Japanese persisted in 
pursuing an aggressive policy in China 
and in southeast Asia there was not, in 
Mr. Hull's words, "one chance in twenty 
or one in fifty or even one in one him- 



dred of reaching a peaceful settlement." 1 
In the year since Prince Konoye had 
become Premier (16 July 1940) , the 
Japanese had achieved two of the four 
objectives outlined in the "General Prin- 
ciples." 2 The Tripartite Pact had been 
signed on 27 September 1940, and a neu- 
trality pact concluded with Russia on 
13 April 1941. Expansion by diplomacy 
had failed everywhere, except in Thai- 
land. By agreement with Vichy France, 
Japan had obtained the right to mili- 
tary occupation of Tonkin Province and 
the use of air bases and military facili- 
ties in northern Indochina. But the 
Dutch, backed by the Americans and 
British, had stubbornly resisted Japanese 
efforts to gain economic concessions, and 
the Chinese showed no disposition to 
lay down their arms and accept Japanese 
terms for a settlement. 

The German invasion of the Soviet 
Union on 22 June 1941 had a profound 
effect on the international situation and 
led the Japanese to re-examine the pol- 
icy established only a year earlier. There 
was much heated discussion among Japa- 
nese political and military leaders of the 
probable effect of the Russo-German 
war, discussions which the Americans 
learned about through the medium of 

1 Pearl Harbor Attack: Report of the Joint Com- 
mittee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor 
Attack, Doc. 244, 79th Cong., 2d sess. (hereafter 
cited as Pearl Harbor Report), p. 394. Unless 
otherwise noted this section is based on the Pearl 
Harbor Report; Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 
20, Memoirs of Prince Konoye; IMTFE, Judgment, 
pp. 924-35; Department of State, Foreign Relations 
of the United States, Japan, II, 342, 527-38, 549—55; 
Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. IV, 
Japanese Studies in World War II, 150. The most 
detailed accounts in secondary sources are Langer 
and Cleason, The Undeclared War, and, on the 
Japanese sid e, Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor, 

s See above ["ch. 

Magic 3 and which President Roosevelt 
characterized as "a real drag-down and 
knock-out fight ... to decide which way 
they are going to jump — attack Russia, 
attack the South Seas . . . [or] sit on the 
fence and be more friendly with us." 
Foreign Minister Matsuoka favored the 
first course, the Army the second, and 
Premier Konoye inclined toward the 
third course. Finally, on 2 July 1941, 
an Imperial Conference, consisting of 
the chief members of the government 
and the armed forces meeting with the 
Emperor, made the final decision on 
Japan's future course. 4 

The question of a Soviet attack was 
put to rest by the Imperial Conference 
which decided that, regardless of any 
change in the international situation, 
Japan would adhere to the Tripartite 
Pact and to its plan for expansion to 
the south. If a favorable opportunity 
arose to take advantage of the war 
between Germany and the Soviet Union, 
Japan, would be ready to do so. The 
negotiations with the United States were 
to be continued while preparations to 
place the nation on a war basis and 
strengthen its defenses were to be pushed 
forward with vigor. Also, steps were to 
be taken to bring about Chiang's sur- 
render, and plans for the domination 
of Thailand and Indochina were to be 
executed immediately. "We will not be 
deterred," the Imperial Conference 
decreed, "by the possibility of being 
involved in a war with England and 

'Code name given to the interception and decoding 
of the Japanese messages. 

4 Ltr, Roosevelt to Harold L. Ickes, i Jul 41, cited 
in Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, p. 
646. The 2 July decision is included among IMTFE 
Exhibits, 588. See also Ltr, Grew to author, 19 Jun 
49, OCMH. 



The problems posed by Germany's 
attack on the Soviet Union were hardly 
settled and the decision made to abide 
by the Tripartite Pact and continue the 
drive southward when a new crisis arose. 
Still unanswered was the note Hull had 
handed Nomura on 21 June, asking for 
some clear indication of a genuine desire 
for peace and making allusions to the 
pro-German attitude of certain mem- 
bers of the Japanese Government. 
Matsuoka, the foremost advocate of the 
alliance with Germany, insisted on an 
outright rejection of the note and the 
termination of the talks. Premier Konoye, 
fearful that a flat rejection would end 
the negotiations, wished to reply with 
counterproposals already prepared by 
the Army and Navy. Matsuoka would 
not budge from his position and Konoye, 
given the nod by Tojo and after consul- 
tation with the Emperor, moved to oust 
the pro-German Foreign Minister. First, 
on 16 July, he submitted the resignation 
of the entire Cabinet to the Emperor. 
Two days later he received the Imperial 
mandate to form a new Cabinet. This 
he did by selecting the same ministers 
as before except for Matsuoka, whom 
he replaced with Admiral Toyoda. The 
Japanese could now go ahead with the 
program outlined at the Imperial 
Conference of 2 July. 

The first move of the new government 
was the virtual occupation of French 
Indochina. Protesting that Indochina 
was being encircled, Japan issued what 
was in effect an ultimatum to the Vichy 
Government on 19 July. On the 24th, 
Roosevelt offered to guarantee to the 
Japanese equal access to the raw mate- 
rials and food of Indochina in return 
for the neutralization of that country 
Nothing came of the proposal. The fol- 

lowing day Japanese troops moved into 
the southern portion of Indochina. Japan 
now possessed strategically located air 
and naval bases from which to launch at- 
tacks on Singapore, the Philippines, and 
the Netherlands Indies. 

Although the French acquiesced in 
this raid on their empire, the United 
States was not so obliging. In the view 
of the State Department, this fresh Japa- 
nese aggression constituted a threat to 
American interests in the Far East and 
justified the imposition of additional 
economic restrictions, then being con- 
sidered by the President, as a warning to 
Japan. These restrictions were finally 
put into effect on 26 July when the Presi- 
dent issued an order freezing Japanese 
assets in the United States. Since Japan 
no longer had the dollars with which to 
purchase the urgently needed materials 
of war, the effect of this measure, which 
the British and Dutch supported, was to 
create an economic blockade of Japan. 
The "obvious conclusion" of the "vi- 
cious circle of reprisal and counterre- 
prisal," wrote Ambassador Grew, "is 
eventual war," and Admiral Stark took 
so serious a view of the situation that he 
warned Admiral Thomas C. Hart, com- 
mander of the Asiatic Fleet, on the 25th, 
to take "appropriate precautionary meas- 
ures against possible eventualities." 5 

The sharp American and British re- 
action to their move into Indochina 

"Rad, CNO to CINCAF, 25 Jul 41, in Pearl Harbor 
Attack Hearings, pt. 14, pp. 1400-J401; Grew Diary, 
July 1941, cited in Langer and Gleason, The Unde- 
clared War, p. 654. Admiral Stark opposed a total 
embargo on oil at this time, but did favor a partial 
embargo that would provide Japan with enough for 
essential peacetime needs, but none for military pur- 
poses. Ltr, Stark to Col Warren G. Hoover, Actg 
Chief of Mil Hist, 5 Aug 59, OCMH. 



General Suzuki, president of the Japa- 
nese Planning Board, 1941. 

came as a surprise to the Japanese and 
precipitated an intensive review of the 
nation's readiness to wage war. The pic- 
ture was not encouraging. The power- 
ful Planning Board which co-ordinated 
the vast, complex structure of Japan's 
war economy found the country's re- 
sources meager and only enough, in 
view of the recent action of the United 
States, for a quick, decisive war to gain 
the riches of the Southern Area. "If the 
present condition is left' unchecked," 
asserted Teiichi Suzuki, president of the 
board, "Japan will find herself totally 
exhausted and unable to rise in the 
future." The blockade, he believed, 
would bring about Japan's collapse with- 
in two years, and he urged that a final 
decision on war or peace be made 

"without hesitation." 6 The Navy's view 
was equally gloomy. There was only 
enough oil, Admiral Nagano told the 
Emperor, to maintain the fleet under 
war conditions for one and a half years 
and he was doubtful that Japan could 
win a "sweeping victory" in that time. 
His advice, therefore, was that every 
effort should be made to reach a peace- 
ful settlement with the United States. 

By the middle of August the two serv- 
ices had agreed on a broad line of strat- 
egy. The impetus came from a series of 
studies presented by the Total War Re- 
search Institute, a subordinate body of 
the Cabinet. 7 Forecasting the course of 
events during the next six months, the 
institute called for the invasion of the 
Netherlands Indies in November, fol- 
lowed the next month by surprise 
attacks on British and American posses- 
sions in the Far East. Anticipating that 
the United States and Great Britain 
would utilize Soviet bases in a war 
against Japan, the institute predicted 
that Russia, too, would become involved 
in the war, probably between April and 
October 1942. The bulk of the insti- 
tute's studies, however, dealt with the 
problems of economic mobilization; mil- 
itary planning, except in the most gen- 
eral sense, was left to the services. 8 

These studies, as well as others, were 
used as reference material by the Gen- 
eral Staffs in developing their own plans 
during the tense days that followed the 
embargo. From these discussions 
emerged four alternative lines of strat- 

•Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
IV, Japanese Studies in World War II, 150, pp. 73—77. 

'This group was established in October 1940 to 
conduct research into wartime measures, in co-opera- 
tion with the Planning Board. 

8 IMTFE, exhibits 870, 870-A, and 871. 



Admiral Nagano 

egy, all of them designed to accomplish 
the swift destruction of Allied forces in 
the Far East and the early seizure of the 
Netherlands Indies. The first was based 
on the institute's studies and provided 
for the seizure of the Indies and then 
of the Philippines and Malaya. The 
second called for a step-by-step advance 
from the Philippines to Borneo, then 
Java, Sumatra, and Malaya. The re- 
verse, from Malaya to the Philippines, 
constituted a third line of action and one 
which would have the advantage of de- 
laying attack against American territory. 
The fourth plan proposed at this time 
consisted of simultaneous attacks against 
the Philippines and Malaya followed by 
a rapid advance along both axes to the 
Indies. Admiral Yamamoto's plan for 
an attack against Pearl Harbor, work on 
which had begun in January, did not 

enter into the calculations of the plan- 
ners at this time. 

Army and Navy planners agreed that 
the first plan was too risky for it would 
leave Japanese forces exposed to attack 
from the Philippines and Malaya. The 
Navy preferred the second plan; it was 
safe, provided for a step-by-step advance, 
and created no serious problems. The 
Army objected to it, however, on the 
ground that by the time the main ob- 
jectives in the Netherlands Indies and 
Malaya were reached the enemy would 
have had time to strengthen his defenses. 
The third plan, with its early seizure of 
Malaya and bypassing of the Philippines, 
appealed greatly to the Army planners, 
who hoped in this way to gain Southeast 
Asia and delay American entry into the 
war. But this course, as the Navy pointed 
out, also placed American naval and air 
forces in the Philippines in a strategic 
position athwart Japan's line of com- 
munication and constituted a risk of the 
utmost magnitude. The fourth course, 
simultaneous attacks and advance along 
two axes, created serious problems of 
co-ordination and timing and a danger- 
ous dispersion of forces. But because it 
was the only course which compromised 
the views of both groups, it was finally 
adopted. For the first time the Japanese 
had a strategic plan for offensive opera- 
tions designed to achieve the goals of 
national policy against a coalition of 
enemies. 9 

America Faces the Far East 

By mid- August 1941, American mili- 
tary strategy for the Pacific and Far 

"Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. 
IV, Japanese Studies in World War II, 150, pp. 9—10. 



East — which reflected the determination 
to avoid war with Japan and to remain 
on the defensive even if it meant the loss 
of the Philippines, Guam, and Wake — 
no longer reflected the policy of the 
U.S. Government. There had been 
signs even before Rainbow 5 was com- 
pleted that American policy toward 
Japan was stiffening. The President's 
action in May making China eligible for 
lend-lease had marked the beginning of 
a shift in Far Eastern policy. Though 
it proved difficult to find any munitions 
to furnish China because early plans for 
lend-lease had been made entirely in 
terms of aid to Britain, by July the prin- 
ciple of arming a compact Chinese Army 
and Air Force with American weapons 
had been accepted with all the implica- 
tions this had for relations with the 
Japanese. In addition, a mission under 
Brig. Gen. John Magruder was dis- 
patched to China to aid in delivery of 
materials over the Burma Road and to 
assist the Chinese both in using the 
materials received and in placing orders 
properly. Magruder did not, however, 
have authority to discuss military plans 
with the Chinese, nor was he told what 
he should do if war broke out between 
the United States and Japan. 10 

The order of 26 July freezing Japa- 
nese assets in the United States and 
establishing a de facto oil embargo gave 
further confirmation of America's stif- 
fening policy toward Japan. The plan- 
ners had objected to the move on the 

'"Rpt, JPC to JB, Aircraft Rqmts for Chinese 
Govt, 9 Jul 41, JB 355, sen 6gi; U.S. Mil Mission to 
China, 13 Sep 41, JB 354, ser. 716; Mins, JB Mtg, 12 
Jul 41. For a full account of prewar policy toward 
China, see Riley Sunderland and Charles F. Ro- 
manus, Stilwell's Mission to China, UNITED 
1953), ch. I. 

ground that it might force Japan into 
war to gain the oil it so badly needed 
and thus imperil American interests in 
the Atlantic. 11 The President believed 
too, as he had written Secretary of the 
Interior Harold L. Ickes earlier in the 
month, that "it is terribly important for 
the control of the Atlantic for us to help 
to keep peace in the Pacific," but felt, 
after the German attack on the Soviet 
Union had in effect lessened the imme- 
diate danger in the Atlantic and freed 
Japan to move south, that the United 
States could take a stronger stand in the 
Pacific. 12 This conviction, shared by 
Stimson and others, was a basic factor 
in the decisions made during the months 
before Pearl Harbor. 

A strong policy called for larger forces 
and for a revision of military plans. 
These were not long in coming. On 
the same day the oil embargo was im- 
posed, General MacArthur, since 1936 
the Military Adviser of the Philippine 
Commonwealth and architect of the 
Philippine Army, was recalled to active 
duty and given command of all U.S. 
Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) . 
At the same time, by executive order, 
the Philippine Army was called into the 
service of the United States. 13 But it was 
the Rainbow strategy and not the Presi- 
dent's desire to strengthen American de- 
fenses that dictated the instructions sent 
to MacArthur. Except for approximately 
400 reserve officers to assist in training 

"Memo, Turner for Stark, 19 Jul 41, sub: Study of 
Effect of Embargo . . . , Pearl Harbor Attack Hear- 
ings, pt. 5, pp. 2382-84. 

"Ltr, Roosevelt to Ickcs, 1 Jul 41, cited in Langer 
and Gleason, The Undeclared War, p. 646. 

18 For an account of these measures, and of the 
reinforcement of the Philippines whic h follow ed. 
see Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, |chs. II l and 



the Philippine Army, he was told, he 
would not receive any reinforcements. 

On the last day of July, only two days 
after he had told MacArthur not to ex- 
pect any reinforcements, Marshall radi- 
cally altered the Army position "to go 
to no further expense for permanent 
improvements unless savings will re- 
sult." American policy, he told his staff, 
was to defend the Philippines, and pre- 
sumably to reinforce them, but not to 
such an extent as to "jeopardize the suc- 
cess of the major efforts made in the 
theater of the Atlantic." 14 This scarcely 
constituted a reversal of the Rainbow 5 
strategy, but it did justify approval of a 
proposal to reinforce the Philippines 
with guns, tanks, and ammunition. 

This shift was not as sudden as it ap- 
peared. There had been earlier pro- 
posals to reinforce the Philippines, most 
of which had been rejected only because 
of a lack of funds. The previous year 
President Manuel Quezon, with the sup- 
port of the Philippine Department com- 
mander, had sought to secure additional 
money for Philippine defense by using 
the sugar excise funds — a project which 
required Congressional approval — and 
early in 1941 the strength of the Philip- 
pine Scouts had been doubled. More- 
over, Secretary Stimson, who had served 
as governor-general of the Philippines 
and had long advocated a firm attitude 
toward Japan, favored the reinforce- 
ment of the islands, as did other men in 
high places. But it was the airmen's 
argument that their long-range bomber, 
the B-17, could do what the Navy could 
not that convinced the more skeptical 
and paved the way for a new view of the 

"Gerow's Office Diary, entry of 31 Jul 41, OPD 
Exec Files; Phil Dept Def Proj, 1940, May 41, OPD 
Reg. Docs. 

defense of the Philippines. A force of 
these bombers based in the Philippines, 
it was contended, would not only serve 
to defend the islands but would consti- 
tute such a threat to Japanese movements 
southward toward the Netherlands In- 
dies as to deter Japan from further 
aggression in that direction. 

The air staff proposal was approved 
early in August and on the 14th the War 
Plans Division of the General Staff sub- 
mitted a program for reinforcing the 
Philippines with antiaircraft artillery, 
modern combat planes, and tanks "to 
enhance the probability of holding 
Luzon, and, in any event, giving a rea- 
sonable assurance of holding Manila 
Bay." 15 General Marshall gave the plan 
his approval and then notified Mac- 
Arthur that he would receive 1 coast 
artillery regiment, 1 battalion of tanks, 
an ordnance company, and 31 P-40's 
sometime in September, and shortly after 
that another 50 P-40's directly from the 
factory. At the same time the Air Corps 
allocated 4 heavy bomber and 2 pursuit 
groups to MacArthur's Far East Air 
Force and ordered a provisional squad- 
ron of g B-17's from Hawaii to the 
Philippines. These planes, after a his- 
toric pioneer flight from Oahu by way 
of Midway, Wake, Port Moresby, and 
Darwin, reached Clark Field on 12 Sep- 
tember. By this time the reinforcement 
of the Philippines enjoyed the highest 
priority in the War Department. 

During the months that followed, air- 
craft, weapons, supplies, and men in 
increasing numbers were marked for 
shipment to the Philippines. But it 
took time to get orders filled, pack and 
ship them to the ports, find the vessels 

"Memo, Gerow for CofS, 14 Aug 41, sub: Rein- 
forcement of Phil, WPD 3251-55. 



to transport them, and sail them across 
the ocean. At every step of the way there 
were delays, but none so serious as the 
shortage of cargo ships. By November 
the backlog in U.S. ports of equipment 
marked for the Philippines amounted to 
approximately one million tons. Though 
a shipping schedule that provided for ad- 
ditional sailings in the next two months 
was established, a considerable quantity 
of supplies and a large number of men 
destined for the Philippines never got 

The decision to reinforce the Philip- 
pines brought into sharp focus the prob- 
lem of developing a trans-Pacific air 
route less exposed than the one via Mid- 
way and Wake. Airmen had long urged 
such a project, which had the additional 
advantages of guarding the line of com- 
munication to Australia and New Zea- 
land and providing protection for 
surface vessels along the sea lanes of the 
South Pacific, but did not gain approval 
until August 1941. Construction was 
begun in October, when funds were 
made available, and by the time war 
came the route across the South Pacific 
by way of Christmas, Canton, Samoa, 
Fijis, and New Caledonia was nearing 
completion. 18 

The prevailing mood in Washington 
in the fall of 1941 was one of optimism 
over the possibility of defending the 
Philippines. It was the opinion of the 
Joint Board, expressed at the meeting of 

16 For a full account of the development of this 
route, see Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, 
eds., Plans and Early Operations — January 1939 to 
August 1942, "The Army Air Forces in World War 
II," vol. I (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 
1948) (hereafter cited as AAF I), pp. 180-82; AAF, 
Hist Study 9. The Development of the South Pacific 
Air Route, pp. 23-28, Air Hist Office. 

19 September, that the reinforcements 
planned would have a profound strategic 
effect in a Pacific conflict and might well 
be the decisive element in deterring 
Japan from opening hostilities. 17 All 
that was needed was time to prepare. 
The general estimate was that prepara- 
tions would be completed by March 1942. 
Until that time there was a risk that the 
Japanese would attack, but it was a risk 
the Army planners were apparently 
willing to take. 

The view that Japan would not strike 
until the spring of 1942 was based on 
careful studies of the Far Eastern situa- 
tion. Japan, it was assumed, wished to 
gain control of Asiatic Russia, China, 
and Malaysia, and would, if conditions 
were favorable, resort to war to gain its 
aims. The Philippines, strategically lo- 
cated along the path of Japan's south- 
ward course, would be one of the early 
objectives in a war with the United 
States. Thus far Japan had hesitated to 
seize these territories, the Army planners 
believed, because of Soviet Russia's un- 
expected and successful showing against 
the Wehrmacht, because of economic 
pressure from the United States, Great 
Britain, and the Netherlands, and be- 
cause of the continued resistance of the 
Chinese Nationalists. Moreover, in the 
opinion of the planners, the conquest of 
the Philippines would be so costly an 
operation that Japan "will hesitate to 
make the effort except as a last resort." 
The more formidable the Philippine 
defenses, therefore, the less likelihood 
was there of a Japanese war. "Air and 
ground units now available or scheduled 
for dispatch to the Philippine Islands in 
the immediate future," concluded the 

"Mins, JB Mtg, 19 Sep 41. 



planners, "have changed the entire 
picture in the Asiatic Area." 18 

Though the major assumptions and 
conclusions of Rainbow 5 were still 
valid, its provisions for the defense of 
the Philippines were obviously in need 
of revision. Drawn up on the assump- 
tion that the islands could not be rein- 
forced and that their loss was probable, 
it called for a limited defense of the en- 
trance to Manila Bay by the existing 
garrison and local forces. MacArthur's 
recall to active duty and the induction of 
the Philippine Army into the service 
of the United States, and the new view of 
the defensibility of the islands and their 
role as a base for air operations against 
Japan, were eloquent testimony that 
events had once more outrun plans. In 
a strong letter to the War Department 
General MacArthur pointed out these 
facts, asserting that he would soon have 
a force of approximately 200,000 men 
organized into eleven divisions and a 
greatly strengthened air force. The time 
had come, he believed, to reject the 
"citadel type defense" of the Orange 
and Rainbow plans in favor of an active 
defense of the entire archipelago. 19 

This proposal, so in accord with the 
new optimism over the defense of the 
Philippines, met with favor in the War 
Department and then in the Joint Board 
which on 21 November approved a re- 
vision of Rainbow 5. In this revision, 
the mission of the Philippine garrison 
was expanded to include "all the land 
and sea areas necessary for the defense 
of the Philippine Archipelago," that is, 
of the entire Philippines and not only 

"Memo, Gerow for Secy of War, 8 Oct 41, sub: 
Strategic Concept of the Phil Is, WPD 3251-60. 

"Ltr, MacArthur to TAG, 1 Oct 41, sub: Opns 
Plan R-5, WPD 4178-18. 

Manila Bay. Moreover, the existence of 
a greatly enlarged air force in the Phil- 
ippines was recognized by the provision 
for air attacks against "Japanese forces 
and installations within tactical opera- 
ting radius of available bases." How far 
some of the planners had moved from 
their original defensive concept is per- 
haps most strikingly revealed in the first 
draft of a letter to MacArthur which the 
planners prepared for General Marshall. 
Air reinforcements, they wrote, had 
modified the conception of purely de- 
fensive operations "to include strong 
offensive air action," a phrase which 
Marshall prudently changed to "strong 
air operations in the furtherance of the 
strategic defensive." 20 But words could 
not gloss over the fact that the B-17 was 
an offensive weapon and that a force of 
heavy bombers in the Philippines had 
only one purpose — offensive operations. 
Marshall himself acknowledged this fact 
in an off-the-record press interview when 
he indicated "that though the last thing 
the United States wants is a war with the 
Japanese," it was preparing for "an 
offensive war against Japan," a war 
which would be waged "mercilessly 
everywhere in the Pacific. 21 

Though the Japanese did not wait 
until the spring of 1942 to open hostili- 
ties and MacArthur did not receive all 
that had been promised him, the Philip- 
pine garrison constituted in December 
1941 a far stronger force than it had six 
months earlier. The strength of the 
ground forces, exclusive of the Philip- 

M Ltr, CofS to CG USAFFE, 21 Nov 41, sub: U.S.- 
British Cooperation in the Far East, with Incl, 
extract of changes in Rainbow 5, WPD 4402-1 is. 

11 Notes on Conf in OCofS, 15 Nov 41, copy in 
OCMH. The quotation is not General Marshall's 
but is from the notes of the meeting. 



pine Army, had been increased by 8,563 
men and now numbered 31,095. The 
ten reserve divisions of the Philippine 
Army had been two-thirds mobilized but 
were still poorly equipped and inade- 
quately trained. The air force had been 
strengthened and reorganized. At Clark 
Field were 35 B-17's and scattered 
among the various fields on Luzon were 
over 100 P— 40's. Much remained to be 
done to create a balanced air force, but 
the Philippines had nevertheless a 
larger number of modern combat air- 
craft than any other overseas base, 
including Hawaii and Panama. 

Even the Asiatic Fleet had been rein- 
forced, despite the Navy's assertion 
earlier in the year that it would not be. 
No major surface elements, it is true, 
had been added but Admiral Hart had 
received an additional squadron of 
PBY's for a total of 32, 6 motor torpedo 
boats, and 18 submarines, most of them 
of the latest type, giving him all together 
a fleet of 29 underwater craft. In addi- 
tion, he had 1 heavy and 2 light cruisers, 
13 old destroyers of World War I vin- 
tage, 6 gunboats, and miscellaneous ves- 
sels. Also under his command was the 
4th Marine Regiment, withdrawn from 
China at the end of November. 

The most powerful American force in 
the Pacific was the Pacific Fleet, based 
at Pearl Harbor and consisting of g bat- 
tleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 1 2 heavy and 
8 light cruisers, 50 destroyers, 33 sub- 
marines, and 100 patrol bombers. In 
addition, British and Dutch vessels in 
Far Eastern waters could be expected, in 
the event of war with Japan, to fight the 
common foe. Thus, the Allies could 
muster a naval force of considerable 
strength to oppose the Japanese Com- 
bined Fleet. Unfortunately, all efforts to 

work out a plan for concerted naval ac- 
tion in the Far East proved unsuccessful. 

American bases along the line of com- 
munications between Hawaii and the 
Philippines had also been strengthened 
in 1941, but still represented little more 
than token forces. Guam, whose fortifi- 
cation had been recommended by the 
Hepburn Report in 1938 but denied by 
Congress, was still "practically defense- 
less against determined attack." 22 Its 
garrison was composed of 365 Marines, 
a small force of natives, and a navy con- 
sisting of three patrol boats; weapons 
included nothing larger than the .30- 
caliber machine gun. The defense of 
Wake Island, for which Congress had 
appropriated funds on the recommenda- 
tion of the Hepburn Board, was a case, 
like that of the Philippines, of too little 
and too late. Construction was still in 
progress on 7 December but there was 
one Marine fighter squadron of twelve 
Grumman Wildcats on the island, and 
a 388-man detachment of the 1st Marine 
Defense Battalion armed with 5-inch 
coastal guns, 3-inch and .50 caliber anti- 
aircraft guns, .30-caliber machine guns, 
and small arms. The largest group on 
the island were civilians, 70 Pan Ameri- 
can Airway employees and over 1,000 
construction men. Midway, the "sentry 
for Hawaii" and, in the opinion of the 
Hepburn Board, second in importance 
only to Pearl Harbor, had since mid- 
1940 been garrisoned by a small Marine 
force. In the summer of 1941 a naval 
air station was established on the island 
and in September the 6th Defense Bat- 
talion with 784 officers and men relieved 
the original garrison. The planes des- 
tined for Midway were embarked on the 

Hepburn Report, p. 27. 



General Short 

Lexington on 5 December, to be deliv- 
ered on the morning of the 7th, but 
other events intervened and they did not 
arrive until the 17th. 23 

While the Navy, with Army air forces, 
provided the first line of defense in the 
Pacific, the Army, with certain excep- 
tions, provided the forces to defend those 
bases from which ships and planes op- 
erated. The most important of these lay 
along the triangle Alaska-Hawaii-Pana- 
ma. Not only were they vital bases but 
they constituted the strategic frontier of 
the United States and the outer defenses 
of the west coast. Of these, only Hawaii, 
2,000 miles distant from San Francisco, 

ffl Lt. Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr., The Defense of 
Wake (Washington: U.S. Marine Corps Historical 
Section, 1947), pp. 4—11; Marines at Midway (Wash- 
ington: U.S. Marine Corps Historical Section, 1948), 
pp. 3-9, 16. 

lay in the Pacific and figured in the plans 
for offensive operations against Japan in 
the event of war; Alaska and Panama, 
though fully as important, were more 
closely associated with hemisphere 
defense plans. 

The planners had recognized early 
that the chief danger to Hawaii lay not 
so much in an effort by the Japanese to 
capture the islands, but rather in a sud- 
den and unexpected attack, probably 
from the air, on the great naval base at 
Pearl Harbor. This thought had ap- 
peared from time to time in studies and 
estimates and was included in the local 
plans for defense. 24 

The transfer of the U.S. Fleet to 
Pearl Harbor in April 1940 and its re- 
tention there on the President's orders, 
a move designed to deter the Japanese, 
increased enormously the problems of 
defending the naval base and the grow- 
ing number of airfield installations. 
During the summer and fall of 1940, 
Maj. Gen. Charles D. Herron repeatedly 
urged that heavy bombers and antiair- 
craft defenses, including artillery, and 
air warning equipment, be sent to Ha- 
waii, and that bomb-proof shelters be 
built. The Navy, too, was concerned 
about the protection of its base from a 
surprise carrier-based air attack, and 
Secretary Knox gave strong support to 
Herron's requests in a letter to Stimson 
in January 1941. All were agreed on the 
danger and sought, within the limita- 
tions imposed by appropriations, to pro- 
vide what was needed. But at that time 
Hawaii was the best equipped American 
base and had high priority for modern 
aircraft, antiaircraft guns, air warning 

" Watson, Prewar Plans and Preparations, pp. 465- 




Admiral Kimmel 

equipment, and barrage balloons. There 
was little more, Stimson assured Knox, 
that could be done except to provide for 
closer co-ordination between the Army 
and Navy. 

When Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short as- 
sumed command of the Hawaiian De- 
partment in February 1941 — at the same 
time that Admiral Husband E. Kimmel 
took over the Pacific Fleet — General 
Marshall carefully defined his mission 
for him as the protection of the naval 
base and the fleet, and warned against 
allowing service feuds to interfere with 
joint defense plans. Short continued 
along the lines already marked out, push- 
ing construction of airfields, the air 
warning system, dispersal areas, and gun 
installations. In April he and Kimmel 
submitted a revised plan for the defense 
of Oahu which carefully specified the 

responsibilities of each of the services. 
Included with the plan was the Army 
and Navy air commanders' estimate 
which, with remarkable prescience, out- 
lined the probable course of a Japanese 
attack as a sudden air raid against ships 
and installations on Oahu, coming with- 
out warning and originating from car- 
riers not more than 300 miles distant. 
"In a dawn attack," they foretold, "there 
is a high probability that it could be 
delivered as a complete surprise in spite 
of any patrols we might be using." 25 

By December 1941, the Army garrison 
in Hawaii had been considerably rein- 
forced and was in many respects the 
strongest base in the Pacific. Assigned 
to its ground defense were 2 under- 
strength infantry divisions, 4 antiair- 
craft artillery regiments, almost 4 com- 
plete coast artillery regiments, and 1 
company of light tanks, with supporting 
service troops. Of the total of 234 air- 
craft, only about half were operational. 
Included in this total were a large num- 
ber of obsolescent types and only six 
B-17's. The air warning system, though 
not yet completed, consisted of six mo- 
bile radar sets and three fixed stations 
in place but not completely installed. 

The Plan for War 

Despite repeated assertions of a will- 
ingness to go to war to gain its objectives, 
the Japanese Government in July had 
drawn back quickly in the face of the 
unexpectedly strong reaction from the 
United States. Contributing to this 

20 Joint Estimate of Army and Navy Air Action, 31 
Mar 41, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 15, ex- 
hibit 44, p. 1437; Pearl Harbor Report, pp. 83-84; 
ltr, Marshall to Short, 7 Feb 41, WPD 4449-1. 


Japanese Mock-up of Ford Island and Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor, used in 
Japanese table-top maneuvers. 

lack of resolution was the slowing down 
of Germany's advance in Russia and 
the Japanese Navy's concern over the 
shortage of oil reserves. From the end 
of July until his resignation in October, 
Premier Konoye sought to persuade his 
Cabinet colleagues to adopt a less ag- 
gressive policy in an effort to reach 
agreement with the United States. 

The first sign of this new policy was a 
proposal, delivered by Admiral Nomura 
in Washington on 6 August, for a per- 
sonal meeting, a "leaders' conference," 
between the Premier and President 
Roosevelt. War Minister Tojo had 
agreed to this proposal only on the un- 
derstanding that Konoye would use the 
occasion to press the program for expan- 

sion to the south. The American reply 
on the 17 th that a prerequisite to such a 
meeting was the settlement of the issues 
between the two countries confirmed 
Tojo and the Army leaders in their view 
that the United States would never yield 
to the Japanese demands and that war 
should begin as soon as the Army and 
Navy were ready. 

The difference between Konoye's and 
Tojo's views was temporarily resolved 
early in September and formalized at an 
Imperial Conference held on the 6th of 
the month. The agreement was charac- 
teristically Japanese and expressed in 
language both sides could accept and 
interpret in their own way. The nego- 
tiations with the United States, it was 



agreed, would be continued, as Konoye 
wished. But at the same time, military 
preparations would be pushed to com- 
pletion so that the nation would be ready 
for war by the end of October, that is, 
in six weeks. "If by the early part of 
October," the conferees decided, "there 
is no reasonable hope of having our de- 
mands agreed to in the diplomatic nego- 
tiations . . . we will immediately make 
up our minds to get ready for war. . . ." 26 
The Imperial Conference also fixed 
the minimum demands Japan would 
make and the maximum concessions it 
would grant in the negotiations with 
the United States and Great Britain. 
The minimum demands Japan asked 
were, first, both the Western Powers 
would promise to discontinue aid to 
China, close the Burma Road, and 
"neither meddle in nor interrupt" a set- 
tlement between Japan and China; sec- 
ond, America and Britain would recog- 
nize Japan's "special position in French 
Indochina and agree not to establish or 
reinforce their bases in the Far East or 
take any action which might threaten 
Japan; and third, both nations would 
resume commercial relations with Japan, 
supply the materials "indispensable for 
her self-existence," and "gladly coop- 
erate" in Japan's economic program in 
Thailand and Indochina. In return for 
these "minimum demands" the Japa- 
nese were willing to agree not to use 
Indochina as a base for further military 

"Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, 
pt. ao, pp. 4o:>2— 23. The wording of this important 
statement varies in different documents. IMTFE 
Doc. 1579 gives a slightly different wording as does 
IMTFE Judgment, ch. VII, p. 939. The Japanese 
phrase "kaiseno ketsui su" may be translated literally 
"decide to open hostilities." Konoye apparently did 
not interpret the phrase as meaning that it was a 
decision for war; Tojo did. 

advance, except in China; to withdraw 
from Indochina "after an impartial 
peace" had been established in the Far 
East; and, finally, to guarantee the neu- 
trality of the Philippine Islands. 27 

While negotiations went forward, the 
Army and Navy General Staff continued 
their preparations for war and the troops 
earmarked for operations in the south 
intensified their training, usually under 
conditions approximating those of the 
areas in which they would fight. Since 
agreement had already been reached on 
the strategy for war, General Sugiyama, 
Chief of the Army's General Staff, was 
able shortly after the 6 September Im- 
perial Conference, to direct that detailed 
operational plans for the seizure of 
Malaya, Java, Borneo, the Bismarck Ar- 
chipelago, the Netherlands Indies, and 
the Philippines be prepared. 28 The 
Army planners immediately went to 
work and the next two months witnessed 
feverish activity in the General Staff. 

By the end of August the Navy staff 
had worked out plans for seizing bases in 
the western Pacific, arid had from Ad- 
miral Yamamoto a separate plan for an 
attack on Pearl Harbor. "Table-top ma- 
neuvers" at Tokyo Naval War College 
between 10-13 September resulted in 
agreement on operations for the seizure 
of the Philippines, Malaya, the Nether- 
lands Indies, Burma, and islands in the 
South Pacific. But there was still some 
doubt about Yamamoto's plan. The ex- 
ercise had demonstrated that a Pearl 
Harbor strike was practicable, but many 
felt that it was too risky, that the U.S. 
Pacific Fleet might not be in port on the 
day of the attack, and that the danger of 

"Ibid., IMTFE Doc. 165a, exhibit 588. 
"IMTFE exhibit 2844, Deposition of Tanaka. 



December 1941 

■ CMBIfN B*$£0 trr*t;« OH PE4HL Mi R 80 It 

— — — AppBo»iy*n liuit of ociEcrivE IK* 


discovery during the long voyage to 
Hawaii was too great. But Admiral 
Yamamoto refused to give up his plan 
and finally, when he failed to convert 
his colleagues, offered to resign from the 
Navy. The combination of his strong 
argument that the success of the south- 
ward drive depended on the destruction 
of the American fleet, his enormous 
prestige, and his threat to resign were 
too much for opponents of the plan. In 
mid-October, a month after the maneu- 
vers, the Navy General Staff finally 
adopted his concept of a surprise carrier- 
based attack on Pearl Harbor and in- 
corporated it into the larger plan for 
war. 29 

This larger plan, which was virtually 
complete by 20 October and was the one 
followed by the Japanese when war came, 
had as its immediate objective the cap- 
ture of the rich Dutch and British pos- 
sessions in southeast Asia, especially 
Malaya and the Netherlands Indies. To 
secure these areas, the Japanese believed 
it necessary to destroy or neutralize the 
U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and 
to deprive the United States of its base 
in the Philippines. America's line of 
communications across the Pacific was 
to be cut by the seizure of Wake and 
Guam. Once the coveted area to the 
south had been secured, Japan would 
occupy strategic positions in Asia and in 
the Pacific and fortify them immediately. 
These bases were to form a powerful de- 
fensive perimeter around the newly 
acquired southern area, the home is- 

"For a full account of the evolution of the Pearl 
Harbor plan see Robert E. Ward, "The Inside Story 
of the Pearl Harbor Plan," U.S. Naval Institute Pro- 
ceedings, LXXVII, No. 12 (December 1951), pp. 



lands, and the vital shipping lanes con- 
necting Japan with its sources of supply. 30 
The area marked for conquest formed 
a vast triangle, whose east arm stretched 
from the Kuril Islands on the north 
through Wake, to the Marshall and 
Gilbert Islands. The base of the tri- 
angle was formed by a line connecting 
the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, the Bis- 
marck Archipelago, Java and Sumatra. 
The western arm extended from Malaya 
and southern Burma through Indochina, 
and thence along the China coast. 
(Map i)\ 

The acquisition of this area would 
give to Japan control of the resources of 
Southeast Asia and would satisfy the 
national objectives in going to war. 
Perhaps later, if all went well, the Japa- 
nese believed, the area of conquest could 
be extended. But there is no evidence 
in the Japanese plans of an intention to 
defeat the United States. Japan planned 
to fight a war of limited objectives and, 
having gained what it wanted, expected 
to negotiate for a favorable peace. 

Operations to secure these objectives 
and others would begin on the first day 
of war, when Japanese military forces 
would go into action simultaneously on 
many fronts. Navy carrier-based aircraft 
would attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet in 
the Hawaii area. Immediately after, 
joint Army and Navy air forces would 
strike American air and naval forces in 
the Philippines, while other Japanese 
forces hit British Malaya. After these 
simultaneous attacks, advance Army 
units were to be landed at various points 
in Malaya, the Philippines, and British 

"This account of the Japanese plan is based on a 
number of documents which, together with the 
plan, ar e described in Morton, The Fall of the Phil- 
ippines, ^. 51-55. | 

Borneo. The results thus obtained were 
to be immediately exploited by large- 
scale landings in the Philippines and in 
Malaya, followed by the rapid occupa- 
tion of those areas. At the same time, 
Thailand was to be "stabilized," Hong 
Kong seized, and Wake and Guam oc- 
cupied. The conquest of the Bismarck 
Archipelago would follow the seizure of 
the last two islands. 

During this first period, Army and 
Navy forces were to seize advance air 
bases in the Celebes, Dutch Borneo, 
southern Sumatra, the Moluccas, and 
Timor. The bases thus seized were to be 
immediately utilized for air attacks on 
Java, while other preparations for the 
invasion of that island were speedily 

With the U.S. Fleet and the Philip- 
pines neutralized, and with advance 
bases in the Netherlands Indies, the 
Japanese would move against Java and 
Sumatra. Taking Singapore under fire 
from the land side, that is, from Malaya, 
Japanese forces would first invade and 
occupy this British bastion. Once that 
fortress was reduced, the Japanese would 
move on to northern Sumatra, in prepa- 
ration for the drive on Java. Meanwhile, 
other Japanese forces moving southward 
through the Netherlands Indies were to 
join those in Sumatra in the final attack 
on Java. 

While Java was being occupied, the 
Japanese would complete their seizure of 
Sumatra and capture air bases on the 
southern tip of Burma at the earliest 
possible moment. If conditions were 
favorable they would then push on .in 
Burma and occupy the Andaman and 
Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean. 
Operations in China would be contin- 
ued throughout this period in order 



to maintain "the present strategic 
situation." 31 

The occupation of the Netherlands 
Indies would complete the first period of 
the war and would, the Japanese esti- 
mated, require five months. The Philip- 
pines they expected to take in 50 days, 
Malaya in 100, the Indies in 150. After 
that time the Japanese would consoli- 
date their position and strengthen the 
bases along the perimeter of their newly 
gained empire in order to repulse any 
Allied effort to penetrate this defensive 
ring or threaten the vital area within it. 
During this period the Army would con- 
tinue its operations in China and Burma 
and establish a system of administration 
for the southern area. 

The Navy's plan for the period after 
the initial operations was to intercept 
with a strong force anticipated trans- 
Pacific operations of U.S. naval forces. 
Its plan lists as "areas expected to be 
occupied or destroyed" eastern New 
Guinea, New Britain, the Fiji Islands, 
Samoa, the Aleutians, Midway, and 
"strategic points in the Australia area." 32 
But operations to seize these objectives 
were not authorized by Imperial Gen- 
eral Headquarters until the spring of 

Japanese planners anticipated that 
certain events might require an altera- 
tion in their strategy and outlined 
alternative courses of action. The first 
possibility was that Japanese-American 
negotiations then in progress would 
prove successful. If this unexpected suc- 
cess was achieved, all operations were to 

31 Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 72, p. 16. 

"Combined Fleet Top Secret Operational Order 1, 
5 Nov 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 13, 
p. 438. 

be suspended, even if the final order to 
attack had been issued. The second pos- 
sibility was that the United States might 
take action before the attack on Pearl 
Harbor by sending elements of the Pa- 
cific Fleet to the Far East. In that event, 
the Combined Fleet would be deployed 
to intercept American naval forces. The 
attacks against the Philippines and 
Malaya were to proceed according to 

If the Americans or British launched 
local attacks, Japanese ground forces 
were to meet the attack and air power 
was to be brought into the area to 
destroy the enemy. These local opera- 
tions were not to interrupt the execution 
of the general plan, but if the United 
States or Great Britain seized the initia- 
tive by opening operations first, Japa- 
nese forces were to await orders from 
Imperial General Headquarters before 
beginning their assigned operations. 
The possibility of a Soviet attack, or of 
a joint United States-Soviet invasion 
from the north, was also considered by 
the Japanese planners. To meet such a 
contingency, Japanese forces in Man- 
churia were to be strengthened. Should 
this attack materialize the Philippine 
and Malay operations were to proceed 
as planned, while air units were to be 
immediately transferred from the home 
islands or China to destroy Russian air 
forces in the Far East. Ground forces 
were to be deployed to Manchuria at the 
same time to meet Soviet forces on the 

The forces required to execute this 
vast plan for conquest were very care- 
fully calculat ed by Imp erial General 
Headquarters. (Chart i) A large force 
had to be left in Manchuria, and an even 
larger one in China. Garrisons for 

Chart 1 — Disposition of Major Japanese Forces for War, December 1941 




14th Aimy 
(Philippines Attack Force) 

5th Air Group 

48th Division 

16th Division 
(Amami Oshima) 
(Patau Islands) 

Army Troops 

15th Army 
(Burma Attack Force) 

55th Division 

Army Troops 


33d Division 

16th Army 
(East Indies Attack Force) 

2d Division 

25th Army 
(Malay Attack Force) 

Army Reserve 
2.1 st Division in China 
56th Division in Japan 

_ 3d Air Group 
(China and Indochina) 

S6fh Division 
(elements) (Palaus) 

5th Division 

— Imperial Guards Division 

18th Division 

Army Troops 


South Seas 
(Bon in Islands) 

144th Infantry Rejimejjt 
(Bon ins) 

Artillery Battalion 
and other elements 

23d Army 
(H«ng Kong Attack Force) 


Main Body 

6 battleships 
2 aircraft carriers 
2 light cruisers 
1 destroyer 

Pearl Harbor 
Attack Force 

6 aircraft carriers 
2 battleships 

2 heavy cruisers 
1 light cruiser 

11 destroyers 

3 submarines 

Advance (Submarine) 

27 submarines 


Continue Oprts in China, 
co-operate in Hong Kong Operation 

South Seas Force 

Occupy Wake 
Co-operate in occupation 
of Guam and Rabaul 

Southern Forces 

with Southern Army 

Northern Force 

2 light cruisers 
1 destroyer 
1 air group 
1 base force 
Miscellaneous vessels 

Main Body 

2 battleships 
2 heavy cruisers 
10 destroyers 

Philippines Force 

1 aircraft carrier 
5 heavy cruisers 
5 light cruisers 

29 destroyers 

Miscellaneous vessels 

Malaya Force 

5 heavy cruisers 

3 light cruisers 
1 5 destroyers 
16 submarines 

1 air flotilla 

2 base forces 
Miscellaneous vessels 

Submarine Forces 

2 submarines 
1 tender 

38th Division 

Source: Japanese Opns in SWPA, II, pp. 60-64 



Korea, Formosa, Indochina, and the de- 
fense of the home islands required addi- 
tional forces. Thus, only a small fraction 
of the Japanese Army was available for 
operations in the south. Of the total 
strength of the Army's 51 divisions, 1 
cavalry group, 5g mixed brigades, and 
1,500 first-line planes, Imperial General 
Headquarters could give the Southern 
Army, which had the mission of carrying 
out all these operations, only 1 1 divi- 
sions and the bulk of 2 air groups with 
approximately 700 planes. 

The Japanese allocated their forces 
for the initial operations only after a 
careful estimate of the enemy forces. 33 
In the Philippines, the Japanese cor- 
rectly estimated there was a U.S. Army 
garrison (exclusive of Scouts) of 22,000 
men and 110,000 Philippine Army 
troops. The air strength in the islands 
was thought to consist of 270 planes of 
all types, 70 of which were heavy planes. 
The British were thought to have in 
Malaya alone 90,000 troops, and in Burma 
another 35,000. Dutch ground forces in 
the Indies were estimated to number 
85,000 men. The total enemy ground 
strength was placed at 447,000 men, in- 
cluding British, American, Dutch, and 
Thailand troops. This figure did not 
include Chinese, Indian, Australian, and 
New Zealand troops. The total enemy 
air strength, the Japanese estimated, con- 
sisted of 1,249 aircraft distributed as 
follows: Malaya, 330; Burma, 60; Philip- 
pine Islands, 270; Netherlands Indies, 

33 Army estimates are based on Hist of Army Sec, 
Imperial GHQ, Japanese Studies in World War II, 
72, pp. 12, 18—22; Navy estimates on Political Strat- 
egy Prior to Outbreak of War, pt. V, same series, 152, 
pp. ft)- 20. The estimates are for November 1941: the 
first source. 

312; Thailand, 177; China, 130. The 
Hawaiian air force was not included in 
the Japanese estimates. 

American naval strength was over- 
estimated. The Japanese believed there 
were 5 carriers in the Pacific area. They 
placed 2 cruisers, 1 heavy and 1 light, in 
the Asiatic Fleet, and another 3 in the 
Pacific Fleet, which was thought to con- 
tain also 1 1 battleships, 84 destroyers, 
and 30 submarines. The submarine 
force in Philippine waters was estimated 
at 17 underwater craft. Their estimate 
of British and Dutch naval forces was 
equally inaccurate. 

In the execution of this complicated 
and intricate plan, the Japanese planners 
realized, success would depend on care- 
ful timing and on the closest co-opera- 
tion between Army and Navy forces. No 
provision was made for unified com- 
mand of all services. Instead, separate 
agreements were made between Army 
and Navy Fleet commanders for each 
operation. These agreements provided 
simply for co-operation at the time of 
landing and for the distribution of 

In addition to supporting the Army's 
operations in the south, the Combined 
Fleet had other important missions. 
Perhaps the most important, and cer- 
tainly the most spectacular, was that as- 
signed the Pearl Harbor Striking Force. 
Later, this force was to support opera- 
tions of the 4th Fleet and then assist in 
the southern operations. The 6th Fleet 
(submarines) was to operate in Hawaii- 
an waters and along the west coast of 
the United States to observe the move- 
ments of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and 
destroy lines of communication by sur- 
prise attacks on shipping. The 5th Fleet 
was to patrol the waters east of Japan, in 



readiness for enemy surprise attacks, 
and, above all, to keep on the alert 
against Russia. 

The Japanese plan for war was com- 
plete in all respects but one — the date 

when it would go into effect. That de- 
cision awaited another more important 
decision: whether or not Japan would 
go to war. The answer was not long in 


The Decision for War 

One would have lingering wars with little cost; 
Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings; 
A third thinks, without expense at all, 
By guileful fair words peace may be obtained. 

Shakespeare, Henry VI 

By the fall of 1941 relations between 
the United States and Japan had reached 
a critical stage. American leaders had 
made it clear that so long as Japan ad- 
hered to the Tripartite Pact and to its 
efforts to conquer China there was little 
chance for compromise. But they needed 
time to complete their preparations. 

For the Japanese, most of whom were 
unwilling to pay the American price for 
peace, time was of the essence. They 
were convinced that acceptance of 
American peace terms would only lead 
to further demands and ultimately leave 
Japan dependent on the United States 
and Great Britain. To them the gambles 
of war seemed preferable to the ignominy 
of a disgraceful peace. 

The necessity for a prompt decision on 
Japan's future course was pressing, the 
Japanese leaders believed. The economic 
blockade was slowly depriving the 
nation of the power to fight. Signs of 
military co-operation among the Allies 
and of their intention to reinforce their 
Far Eastern bases were too clear to be 
ignored. Failure to seize the right mo- 
ment for action might lose for Japan 
the vital resources of Malaya and the 
Netherlands Indies without which the 

nation would be dependent upon the 
United States and Great Britain. Thus, 
the Japanese were in the unenviable 
position — or thought they were— of 
either making concessions or going to 
war. They could not afford delay. 
"Time had become the meter of strategy 
for both governments. But one did not 
mind its passing, while the other was 
crazed by the tick of the clock." 1 

Tojo Takes Over 

The six weeks' reprieve Prince 
Konoye had won on 6 September to 

1 Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor, p. 270. Unless 
otherwise noted, this chapter is based on this work 
and upon the Konoye Memoirs, Peart Harbor Attack 
Hearings, pt 20; The Japanese intercepts in pt. 12, 
pp. 1—854; Pearl Harbor Report; IMTFE, Judgment, 
ch. VII, pp. 935—95; U.S. Foreign Relations, Japan: 
1931-41, II, 549—58, 709— 16, 766—70; U.S. Department 
of State, Peace and War, United States Foreign Pol- 
icy, 1931-1041 (Washington, Government Printing 
Office, 1943). Other works of value for this period are 
Langer and Gleason, "The Undeclared War; Walter 
Millis, This is Pearl! The United States and Japan — 
104 1 (New York: William Morrow and Company, 
1947); Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service in Peace 
and War; Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, Hull, 
Memoirs; Samuel Eliot Morison, The Rising Sun in 
the Pacific, 1951— April 1942, vol. Ill, "History of 
United States Naval Operations in World War II" 
(Boston: Little, Brown and Company). 



settle the outstanding issues between the 
United States and Japan by diplomacy 
went by quickly without producing a 
settlement. A new proposal, which Am- 
bassador Nomura delivered to Hull on 
27 September, was rejected by the 
Americans. On 10 October, Nomura, 
who had renewed the request for a meet- 
ing between Roosevelt and Konoye, 
wrote Foreign Minister Soemu Toyoda 
that there was not "the slightest chance 
on earth" of a leader's conference "so 
long as Japan refused to compromise." 
The negotiations, in the words of Toy- 
oda, had "slowly but surely . . . reached 
the decisive stage." 2 

The domestic situation was no better. 
Even more insistently, the Army and 
Navy pressed for a quick decision on the 
question of war. Oil stocks, the services 
pointed out, were steadily diminishing, 
the United States was rapidly reinforc- 
ing the Philippines, and the most favora- 
ble season of the year for operations 
was rapidly approaching. Failure to act 
soon, they declared, might result in a 
delay of many months and expose the 
Japanese to a Soviet attack in Man- 
churia. Finally, on 24 September, Gen- 
eral Sugiyama and Admiral Osami 
Nagano, the Army and Navy Chiefs of 
Staff, submitted a joint letter calling at- 
tention to the shortage of supplies, the 
effect of the weather on operations, and 
the problems of mobilizing, staging, and 
deploying their forces. "With all the 
force of their position" they asked for a 
quick decision "by 15 October at the 
latest," so that they could start operations 
by mid-November. 8 

With no agreement in sight Konoye 
sought to win an extension. On 12 Octo- 
ber he invited War Minister Tojo, the 
Navy and Foreign Ministers, and the 
president of the Planning Board to his 
home for a final conference on the ques- 
tion of war and peace. At the meeting 
the Premier argued strongly for continu- 
ing the negotiations beyond the dead- 
line, then set at 15 October. The Navy 
Minister would not commit himself but 
General Tojo, on the ground that suc- 
cess in the negotiations would require 
concessions in China, refused to go 
along with Konoye. The issue had now 
been narrowed to the withdrawal of 
Japanese troops from China and on the 
morning of the 14th the Premier again 
sought Tojo's consent. "On this occa- 
sion," he urged the War Minister, "we 
ought to give in for a time . . . and 
save ourselves from the crisis of a 
Japanese-American war." Tojo again 
refused, and at a Cabinet meeting later 
in the day demanded that the negotia- 
tions be terminated. Finally, late that 
night, he sent Konoye a message stating 
that the Cabinet ought to resign, "de- 
clare insolvent everything that has hap- 
pened up to now, and reconsider our 
plans once more." 4 

Without Tojo's support Konoye had 
no recourse but to resign. The Army, 
seeking possibly to avoid responsibility 
for the decision which must soon be 
made, suggested as his successor a mem- 
ber of the Imperial family, Prince 
Naruhiko Higashikuni. The suggestion 
was rejected as contrary to tradition and 
the Marquis Kido, together with the 
council of senior statesmen (former pre- 

'Pearl Harbor Report, p. 322. 
3 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak oE War, pt. 
IV, Japanese Studies in World War II, 150, pp. 13-15. 

* Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, 
pt. 20, p. 4010. 



miers) , recommended that Tojo him- 
self be named premier. The Emperor 
accepted this recommendation. On the 
18th Tojo took office with an Imperial 
mandate to reconsider Japan's policy in 
relation to the world situation without 
regard for the 6 September decision. 
The fate of Japan was in the hands of 
its generals. 

In Washington where every Japanese 
move was carefully weighed and ana- 
lyzed, the Cabinet crisis was cause for 
real concern and Ambassador Grew's 
cables did little to lessen it. On the 16th 
when Konoye resigned, Admiral Stark 
told Pacific and Asiatic Fleet command- 
ers that there was "a strong possibility" 
of war between Japan and the Soviet 
Union. Warning them that Japan might 
also attack the United States, Stark 
instructed the two commanders to take 
"due precautions." This message Hart 
and Kimmel passed on to their Army 
colleagues who a few days later received 
quite a different message from Washing- 
ton informing them that they need not 
expect an "abrupt change in Japanese 
foreign policy." 5 Apparently the Army 
did not agree with the Navy's estimate 
of the international situation, and nei- 
ther mentioned the possibility of an 
attack on Pearl Harbor. 

The period from 18 October to 5 
November was one of mounting ten- 
sion and frantic preparations on both 
sides of the Pacific. In Tokyo the Tojo 
Cabinet and the high command, meet- 
ing in an almost continuous series of 

'Memo, Gerow for CofS, 18 Oct 41, sub: Resigna- 
tion of Japanese Cabinet; Rad, CNO to CINCPAC 
and CINCAF, 16 Oct 41, both in Pearl Harbor Attack 
Hearings, pt. 14, pp. 1389, 1402. See also Ltr, Grew to 
author, 19 Jun 49, OCMH. 

Liaison Conferences, considered every 
aspect of Japan's position and completed 
the plans for war. Finally, on 5 Novem- 
ber a decision was reached and con- 
firmed by an Imperial Conference. This 
decision was substantially the same as 
that reached on 6 September: to con- 
tinue negotiations in an effort to reach 
an agreement with the United States, 
and, if no settlement was reached, to 
open hostilities. The deadline first set 
was 25 November, later extended to the 
29th of the month. The significance of 
this decision was revealed in a message 
the new Foreign Minister, Shigenori 
Togo, sent Admiral Nomura on the 4th 
telling him that relations between the 
two countries had "reached the edge." 
Next day he wrote that time was "exceed- 
ingly short," and the situation "very 
critical." "Absolutely no delays can be 
permitted. Please bear this in mind and 
do your best," Togo said. "I wish to 
stress this point over and over." 6 

The Imperial Conference of 5 Novem- 
ber agreed that Japan should make pro- 
posals to the United States. The first, 
Proposal A, was an amendment to the 
latest Japanese proposal and provided 
for a withdrawal from China and French 
Indochina, when and if a peace treaty 
had been signed with Chiang Kai-shek. 
In certain areas in China, to be specified 
in the treaty, Japanese troops would 
remain for a "suitable period," vaguely 
and informally estimated at about 
twenty-five years. Further, the Japanese 
Government would interpret its obliga- 
tions under the Tripartite Pact inde- 
pendently of the other Axis Powers. 
Lastly, Japan would agree not to dis- 

6 Dispatch, Togo to Nomura, 4 and 5 Nov 41, in 
Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 12, exhibit 1 , p. ga. 



General Tojo 

criminate in trade, provided all other 
nations did the same. In his instructions 
to Nomura, Foreign Minister Togo em- 
phasized that while other matters could 
be compromised in his negotiations with 
the United States, Japan could not yield 
on the question of China. 

In Proposal B, to be made if the first 
was rejected, no mention was made of 
the Tripartite Pact or the removal of 
Japanese troops from China. Japan 
would withdraw its troops from south- 
ern Indochina immediately and from 
the northern part of that country only 
after the negotiation of a peace treaty 
with Chiang Kai-shek, or after the con- 
clusion of a "just peace" in the Pacific. 
In return, the United States was to agree 
not to interfere in the negotiations with 
China, and to co-operate with Japan in 
the acquisition and exploitation of natu- 

ral resources in the Netherlands Indies. 
Finally, the United States was to resume 
commercial relations with Japan, and to 
provide that nation with oil. 7 

With the decision made and the dead- 
line set, the Army and Navy drew up 
an agreement embodying the objectives 
of the war and an outline of operations. 
On the same day the Navy Chief of Staff 
sent the Combined Fleet orders outlin- 
ing the Navy's operations for war, with 
the explanation that "anticipating that 
war with the United States, Great Brit- 
ain, and the Netherlands will begin in 
the early part of December, for self- 
preservation and self-defense, the Em- 
pire has decided to complete the various 
preparations for war." 8 During the re- 
mainder of the month, the fleet was 
assembled, and on the 21st all forces, 
including the Carrier Striking Force 
scheduled to attack the Pacific Fleet, 
were ordered into operational waters. 
Most of the submarines for the Hawaiian 
area left Japan around 20 November. 

On the 6th, the Army Chief of Staff 
issued instructions to the Southern Army 
to prepare detailed plans for operations 
in the event that the negotiations failed. 
At a meeting in Tokyo on 10 November, 
the Army and Navy commanders reached 
agreement on the details of their plans. 
At the same time, the major field com- 
manders received orders to proceed with 
their preparations. On 20 November, 
the actual order for the attack was issued, 
but with the proviso that it would be 

'The text of the two proposals is reproduced in 
IMTFE exhibit 779. 

"USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, 
(Washington, 1946), app. 12, pp. 43—46, app. 14, p. 49. 
The Combined Fleet Top Secret Order 1 is repro- 
duced in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 13, pp. 



held until the results of the diplomatic 
negotiations were known. 

In Washington, the privileged few 
followed each diplomatic move of the 
Japanese in the mirror of Magic while 
observing in reports from all parts of 
the Far East increasing evidence of Jap- 
anese military preparations. Japanese 
ship movements toward Malaya and the 
concentration of shipping at Formosa, 
staging area for an attack on the Philip- 
pines, were quickly detected by Ameri- 
can observers. Mr. Grew, who had 
reported as early as 27 January 1941 
that there was talk in Tokyo of a sur- 
prise attack on Pearl Harbor, warned 
on 3 November that recent troop move- 
ments placed Japan in a position to 
start operations "in either Siberia or 
the Southwest Pacific or in both," and 
that war might come with "dramatic and 
dangerous suddenness." "Things seem 
to be moving steadily toward a crisis in 
the Pacific," wrote Admiral Stark to his 
Pacific Fleet commander on 7 November. 
"A month may see, literally, most 
anything. ... It doesn't look good." 10 

The Progress of Negotiations 

The first proposal agreed upon at the 
Imperial Conference of 5 November was 
handed to Mr. Hull by Ambassador 
Nomura two days later. On the 12th, 
the Secretary of State told the Japanese 
Ambassador that the proposal was being 
studied and that he hoped to have a 
reply ready within three days. When it 

"Hist of Southern Army, 1941—45, Japanese Studies 
in World II, 72, pp. 4—8; Hist of Army Sec. Imperial 
GHQ, revised ed., same series, 72, pp. 29-39. 

"Telgs, Grew to Hull, 27 Jan and 3 Nov 41, in 
Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 14, exhibit 15, pp. 
1042, 1045-60; Ltr, CNO to Kimmel, 7 Nov 41, G-3 
Exec Files. 

Japanese Signs proclaiming an economy 
drive in Tokyo. 

came it proved to be a rejection of Pro- 
posal A on the ground that the offer 
to withdraw troops from China and 
Indochina was indefinite and uncertain, 
and that the United States could not 
agree to the Japanese definition of 
nondiscrimination in trade. 

On 20 November, Admiral Nomura, 
who now had the benefit of the advice 
of his newly arrived colleague Saburo 
Kurusu, presented Proposal B, virtually 
a restatement of the "minimum de- 
mands" and "maximum concessions" of 
the 6 September Imperial Conference. 
Intercepted Japanese messages had 
already revealed to Mr. Hull that this was 
to be Japan's last offer for a settlement. 
To the Secretary, the Japanese offer "put 
conditions that would have assured Ja- 
pan's domination of the Pacific, placing 



us in serious danger for decades to 
come." The commitments which the 
United States would have had to make 
were, in his opinion, "virtually a 
surrender." 11 

The problem faced by American polit- 
ical and military leaders was a serious 
one. An outright rejection of Proposal 
B might well provide Japan with the 
pretext for war. Full acceptance was 
out of the question. The only way out 
of the dilemma was to find a "reasonable 
counterproposal" or a basis for tempo- 
rary agreement. In support of this point 
of view, Admiral Stark and General 
Gerow pointed out to the Secretary of 
State that a modus Vivendi would "attain 
one of our present major objectives — 
the avoidance of war with Japan." "Even 
a temporary peace in the Pacific," Gerow, 
who was acting for Marshall, urged, 
"would permit us to complete defensive 
preparations in the Philippines and at 
the same time insure continuance of 
material assistance to the British — both 
of which are highly important." 12 

During the next four days, various 
drafts of a modus vivendi were prepared, 
and a final draft was completed on the 
25th. This document provided that both 
nations would refrain from "any advance 
by force" into any areas in eastern Asia 
or the Pacific, and that japan would 
withdraw from southern Indochina, re- 
duce the number of troops in that coun- 
try, and not send any reinforcements 
there. In return, the United States 
agreed to modify its economic restric- 
tions to permit the shipment of $600,000 

"Hull, Memoirs, II, 1069. 

"Memos, Stark and Gerow for Secy State, 21 Nov 
41, in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 14, pp. 

worth of cotton a month, medical sup- 
plies, and oil "for civilian needs." The 
modus vivendi was to remain in force 
three months. 13 

The modus vivendi and the reply to 
Japan's Proposal B were the subjects of 
a lively discussion by the War Council 
on 25 November. The general view was 
that the modus vivendi should be 
adopted, but Hull was pessimistic and 
expressed the view that the Japanese 
might "break out any time with new 
acts of conquest by force" and that na- 
tional security now "lies in the hands 
of the Army and Navy." 14 Nor could 
the U.S. Government ignore the unfa- 
vorable reaction of other powers to the 
modus vivendi. Great Britain, China, 
the Netherlands, and Australia felt that 
it represented a move in the direction 
of appeasement. The Chinese reaction 
was especially sharp, and from Chiang 
came a bitter protest, supported by a 
cable from Churchill. 

The President was faced with a fateful 
decision. The Army and Navy wanted 
time to prepare for war, and were will- 
ing to buy it with minor concessions. 
But the slight prospect of Japanese 
acceptance of the modus vivendi was, 
in the view of the Secretary of State, 
hardly worth the risk of lowering Chi- 
nese morale and resistance, and opening 
the way for appeasement. At a meeting 
in the White House on 26 November, 
the President and Mr. Hull agreed that 
the small results expected from the 
modus vivendi did not justify the risks. 

"Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 14, exhibit 18, 
pp. 1085—1201. Mr. Hull characterized the economic 
concessions as "chicken feed." Pearl Harbor Report, 
p. 381. 

"Hull, Memoirs, II, 1080. 



That afternoon, therefore, when the Sec- 
retary of State handed the Japanese 
Ambassador his 10-point reply to Pro- 
posal B, he omitted the modus vivendi 
which had been intended as an intro- 
duction to these points outlining the 
basis for a peaceful settlement. 

Though the military leaders were 
informed on the evening of the 26th 
of the decision to abandon the modus 
vivendi, they were apparently not ad- 
vised of the action taken on the ten 
points. Consequently, the discussions on 
the morning of the 26 th in General 
Marshall's office, and in the Joint Board 
later in the day, were held without 
knowledge of the final rejection of 
Japan's last proposal. 15 On the follow- 
ing morning, 27 November, Marshall 
and Stark summarized for the President 
their view of the situation. A Japanese 
offensive seemed imminent to them, but 
the direction of the attack "cannot now 
be forecast." "The most essential thing, 
from the United States point of view," 
they declared, "is to gain time" to com- 
plete the preparations for war. Military 
action before the completion of the 
reinforcement of the Philippines, they 
urged, should be avoided "so long as 
consistent with the national policy," and 
should be considered "only if Japan 
attacks or directly threatens United 
States, British, or Dutch territory." 18 

In view of the seriousness of the situa- 
tion, the Army and Navy chiefs felt that 
commanders in the Pacific should be 

"OCofS Conf, 26 Nov 41, WDCSA 381 Phil (12- 
4—41); Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 15, pp. 
1641—43; Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, 
pp. 898-99. 

"Memo, Marshall and Stark for President, 27 Nov 
41, sub: Far Eastern Situation, Pearl Harbor Attack 
Hearings, pt. 14, p. 1083. 

warned immediately. Already, the Navy 
had sent out word on the 24th — to be 
passed on to the Army commanders — 
that prospects for an agreement with 
Japan were slight and that Japanese 
troop movements indicated that "a sur- 
prise aggressive movement in any direc- 
tion, including attack on Philippines or 
Guam" was a possibility. 17 Now, on the 
27th, Stimson asked General Gerow — 
Marshall had left for the Carolina ma- 
neuvers — whether the Army should not 
send a warning. Gerow showed him the 
Navy message of the 24th, but this failed 
to satisfy Stimson who observed that the 
President wanted a warning message sent 
to the Philippines. After a number of 
hurried meetings of the War Council, 
the 27 November war warning was 
drafted. Considered by the War Depart- 
ment as a "final alert," the message was 
sent to Hawaii, the Philippines, Panama, 
and San Francisco. The commander of 
each of these garrisons was told of the 
status of the negotiations with Japan, 
the imminence of hostilities, and the 
desirability of having Japan commit the 
"first overt act." Each was instructed 
to "undertake such reconnaissance and 
other measures" as he thought necessary 
and to carry out the tasks assigned in 
Rainbow 5 if hostilities occurred. With 
the exception of MacArthur, each of the 
commanders was also warned not to 
alarm the civilian population or to "dis- 
close intent." At the same time G-2 of 
the War Department sent an additional 
and briefer message to Hawaii and Pan- 
ama, but not to the Philippines, warning 
against subversive activities. 

"Rad, OPNAV to Comdrs Pacific and Asiatic 
Fleets, 2005, 24 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack Hear- 
ings, pt. 14, p. 1405. 



Joint Board Meeting, November 1941. This is the first photograph taken of the Joint 
Board. Seated around the table, from left: Brig. Gen. Harold F. Loomis, Maj. Gen. Henry H 
Arnold, Maj. Gen. William Bryden, General Marshall, Admiral Stark, Rear Adm. Royal E. 
Ingersoll, Rear Adm. John H. Towers, Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner. 

The Navy warning of the 27th, which 
was passed on to the Army commanders, 
was more strongly worded and was defi- 
nitely an alert for war. "This dispatch," 
it read, "is to be considered a war warn- 
ing. . . . An aggressive move by Japan 
is expected within the next few days." 
Navy commanders were alerted to the 
likelihood of amphibious operations 
against either the Philippines, the Kra 
Peninsula, or Borneo and instructed to 
"execute an appropriate defensive de- 
ployment" preparatory to carrying out 
the tasks assigned in their war plans. 
The possibility of attack on Pearl Har- 

bor was not mentioned in either of the 
messages. 18 

The response to these warnings was 
immediate. From MacArthur, who had 
promptly alerted his command, came the 
report that air reconnaissance had been 
extended and intensified "in conjunc- 

"Memo, Gerow for Marshall, 27 Nov. 41, sub: Far 
Eastern Situation; Rads, Marshall to CG USAFFE, 
Hawaiian Dept, and Caribbean Defense Comd, Nos. 
6*4, 472, 461, 27 Nov 41, OCS 18136-118 and WPD 
4544-16; Brig Gen Sherman Miles to G— 2 Hawaiian 
Dept. No. 472, 27 Nov 41. Most of these are published 
in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 3, p. 1021, pt. 
14, pp. 1328-30. Stimson's account of these events is 
in pt. 39, p. 84. The Navy message is in pt. 14, p. 1406. 
See also Pearl Harbor Report, pp. 199—201. 



tion with the Navy," and that measures 
for ground security had been taken. 
"Within the limitations imposed by pres- 
ent state of development of this theater 
of operations," he told the Chief of 
Staff, "everything is in readiness for the 
conduct of a successful defense." The 
reply from General Short in Hawaii, 
where both the war warning and the 
G— 2 message had arrived at about the 
same time, read simply: "Report Depart- 
ment alerted to prevent sabotage." This 
clear indication of confusion in Hawaii 
went unnoticed in the Munitions Build- 
ing. To General Marshall and his chief 
aides Hawaii was the only base "reason- 
ably well equipped," its commanders had 
been fully alerted, and they "felt reason- 
ably secure at that one point." Their 
eyes were focused on the Philippines and 
Southeast Asia. 19 

The Die is Cast 

The day 29 November, the deadline 
set by the Japanese, found the force 
scheduled to attack Pearl Harbor already 
on its way and elements of the Southern 
Army assembling for their various tasks. 
Since Hull's note of the 26th — which a 
Liaison Conference had summarily re- 
jected the next day — it had been clear 
to the Japanese leaders that no agree- 
ment was possible. But a few more days 
were needed, so on the 28th Nomura 
and Kurusu were instructed to do their 
best to keep the conversations open. 
The next day the council of senior 
statesmen met with members of the Cab- 

"Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 1004, 28 Nov 
41, OCS 18136-118; Short to Marshall, 27 Nov 41, 
WPD 4544-13. For testimony of Generals Marshall 
and Gerow on this question, see Pearl Harbor Attack 
Hearings, pt. g, pp. 1036, 1423; pt. 27, p. 2191; Pearl 
Harbor Report, pp. igo-51. 

inet. Tojo presented the Cabinet view 
for war, but several of the senior states- 
men expressed doubts about the wisdom 
of a war with the United States. Prince 
Konoye asked why it was not possible 
to continue "with broken economic rela- 
tions but without war," to which Tojo 
replied that the final consequence of 
such a course would be "gradual impov- 
erishment." 20 Later that day, the same 
group met with the Emperor, and each 
man presented his views. 

The Liaison Conference, which met 
in Tokyo at the Imperial Palace on 29 
November 1941, was the conference at 
which the final details for the opening 
of hostilities were decided. Agreement 
was reached on the form and substance 
of a note to the United States which, in 
effect, would end the negotiations. The 
conferees agreed that a declaration of 
war would not be necessary. The timing 
of the note to be delivered in Washing- 
ton was discussed, and it was finally 
decided to allow the Army and Navy to 
fix the interval between the delivery of 
the note and the opening of the attack. 21 

The decisions of the Liaison Confer- 
ence were formalized and sanctioned by 
the Imperial Conference on 1 December. 
Tojo, who presided at this meeting, 
explained the purpose of the conference, 
and then the Cabinet ministers and the 
Chiefs of Staff discussed the question of 
war with the United States, Great Brit- 

20 Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, 
pt. 20, p. 4012. 

"IMTTE, exhibits 2954 and 2955, Depositions of 
Tojo and Togo. On 4 December, Admiral Ito, Vice 
Chief of the Navy General Staff, conferred with Mr. 
Togo, Foreign Minister, in regard to the time inter- 
val between the delivery of the note and the opening 
of the attack. The Navy at first insisted on a 15- 
minute interval, but finally agreed to thirty minutes. 
Statement by Rear Adm. Tomioka, then Chief of 
the Operational Section, Navy General Staff. 



ain, and the Netherlands. The decision 
was in favor of war. "Our negotiations 
with the United States regarding the 
execution of our national policy, adopted 
5 November, have finally failed," reads 
the record of the meeting. "Japan will 
open hostilities against the United States, 
Great Britain, and the Netherlands." 
The Emperor spoke not a single word 
during the meeting. 22 

All was in readiness; only the date 
for the start of war remained to be fixed 
and that was quickly decided. The 8th 
of December (Japanese Standard Time) 
was the date selected and on the 2d the 
Army and Navy Chiefs passed the infor- 
mation on to the forces already moving 
into position for attack. But on the slim 
chance that by a miracle the United 
States would agree to the Japanese terms, 
the naval Chief of Staff added that should 
an amicable settlement be reached "all 
forces of the Combined Fleet are to be 
ordered to reassemble and return to 
their bases." From Admiral Yamamoto's 
flagship went the message Niitaka Yama 
Nobore 1208 (Climb Mount Niitaka 
1208), the prearranged signal to carry 
out the attacks as scheduled. 23 

Various considerations underlay the 
choice of date and the decision to strike 
without warning. Both the Army and 
Navy held that delay would be disastrous 
and that surprise was an essential pre- 
requisite to the success of the plan. The 
Navy, moreover, feared that America's 
potential naval superiority would, by 

^IMTFE exhibit 588, Doc. 1652, Record of Im- 
perial Conferences. 

M These messages are reproduced in USSBS, The 
Campaigns of the Pacific War (Washington, 1946), 
p. 51; Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, p. 9,3. 
The message went out to all Navy forces at 1730^ 2 
December, as Combined Fleet Radio Operational 
Order 6. 

March 1942, make the execution of the 
Japanese plan extremely hazardous, if 
not impossible. The Army was anxious 
to start operations immediately, to pre- 
vent the United States and Great Brit- 
ain from completing preparations in the 
Philippines and Malaya. Weather was 
a decisive consideration also. December 
and January were favorable months for 
amphibious operations, with the tide 
and moon in favor of landings. Sunday 
morning was selected with a full knowl- 
edge of American weekend activities. 24 

The first week of December 1941 was 
one of strain and nervous tension in 
Tokyo and of suspense and somber 
watchfulness in Washington. The signs 
of an early break were too clear to be 
missed by those who could read the 
intercepted Japanese messages and intel- 
ligence reports. Nomura and Kurusu 
saw Hull several times, but both sides 
knew nothing could come of these meet- 
ings. On the 4th, Thursday, Congress 
adjourned for a long weekend. Next day 
the Japanese Embassy staff began to leave 
Washington and Nomura reported the 
partial destruction of codes. 

On 6 December, President Roosevelt 
composed a last-minute plea for peace 
to the Emperor. On the same day a 
Liaison Conference in Tokyo approved 
the decision to have Nomura deliver 
Japan's final note at 1300 the next day, 
thirty minutes before the scheduled 
launching of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 
This note, in fourteen parts, began to 
arrive in Washington later in the day. 
Thirteen of the fourteen parts of the 
message were in American hands that 
night, together with reports of two large 

"Hist t>f Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 72, p. 36; IMTFE, exhibit 
3646, Deposition of Togo. 



Japanese convoys off Indochina, headed 
south. Unidentified aircraft, presum- 
ably Japanese, had been observed over 
Luzon where by this time a full air alert 
was in effect and where the troops had 
already moved into defensive positions 
along the beaches. In Manila, Admiral 
Sir Tom Phillips, commander of the 
British Far Eastern Fleet, was just leav- 
ing for his flagship Prince of Wales after 
concluding arrangements with Hart and 
MacArthur for concerted naval action 
in the event of an attack. From Hawaii 
came a reassuring message that work on 
the South Pacific ferry route was pro- 
gressing satisfactorily. Fourteen B-17's 
left San Francisco that night for Oahu, 
after a personal inspection by Maj. Gen. 
Henry H. Arnold, on the first leg of 
their run to the Philippines. Their 
ground crews were already on the high 
seas in a heavily loaded convoy of seven 
vessels carrying aircraft, artillery, am- 
munition, fuel, men, and supplies to 
General MacArthur. 

That same day, 6 December, Japanese 
forces were rapidly approaching their 
various destinations. The Pearl Harbor 
force after a voyage across the North 
Pacific was heading southeast and at 
2300 (Washington time) was about 600 
miles north of Oahu. On Formosa air- 
fields the planes for the attack on Clark 
Field were lined up, and the troops 
scheduled to seize advance airfields in 
the Philippines had already left staging 
areas in Formosa and the Pescadores. 
The invasion force for Guam was in 
position fifty miles north, on the island 
of Rota, and the Wake force stood ready 
at Kwajalein. Advance units of the Japa- 
nese 25th Army had left Hainan in two 
convoys on 4 December on their way 
to Malaya and on the 6th were nearing 

southern Thailand and Kota Bharu in 
British Malaya. 

On the morning of the 7th, Sunday, 
the fourteenth and last part of the final 
Japanese note was intercepted and de- 
coded. The War Department had its 
copy by about ogoo. Though it did not 
indicate when or where war would start, 
its intent was clear. A short time later 
two additional messages were inter- 
cepted. Taken with the 14-part note 
breaking off the negotiations, they were 
starkly revealing. One instructed the 
Japanese ambassador to destroy the code 
machines and secret documents; the 
other to deliver the 14-part message at 
1 300 (Washington time) . At 1 030 that 
morning Stimson and Knox went to 
Hull's office where they were closeted 
for well over an hour and at 1230 the 
President received the Chinese Ambas- 
sador to whom he read his note of the 
day before to the Emperor. "This is," 
he told Hu Shih, "my last effort for 
peace. I am afraid it may fail." 25 

General Marshall spent Sunday morn- 
ing on the bridle path and reached his 
office before 1 100. The intercepted mes- 
sage giving the 1300 deadline (0730 
Hawaiian time) for delivery of the 
14-part note struck him as significant 
and he suggested to Admiral Stark that 
an additional warning be sent to the 
Pacific. He then composed a message to 
the commanders in Hawaii, the Philip- 
pines, Panama, and San Francisco telling 
them that the Japanese were destroying 
their coding machines and would pre- 
sent at 1300 "what amounts to an ulti- 
matum." "Just what significance the 
hour set may have," he added, "we do 
not know, but be on alert accordingly." 

"Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor, p. 340. 



Declining an offer from Admiral Stark 
for the use of the Navy's radio, Marshall 
turned the message over to an officer 
for transmission over the Army's net- 
work and was assured shortly before 
noon that it would be delivered in thirty 
minutes. By a series of ironical circum- 
stances and unexpected delays the mes- 
sage to Hawaii was in turn entrusted to 
commercial telegraph and radio and then 
to a bicycle messenger who, on his way 
from Honolulu to Fort Shatter, was 
caught in the attack with his still 
encoded message. 26 

President Roosevelt's personal note to 
the Emperor reached Tokyo at noon of 
the 7 th (Tokyo time) , but was not 
delivered to Ambassador Grew until 
2100 that night. Shortly after midnight 
(about 1100 of the 7th, Washington 
time) , he called on the Foreign Minis- 
ter to request an audience with the 
Emperor, but Togo said he would de- 
liver the message himself. Meanwhile 
Ambassador Nomura had made an 
appointment to see Mr. Hull at 1345. 
He and Kurusu arrived at the State 
Department a half hour late and were 
admitted to Hull's office at 1420, only 
a few minutes after the Secretary had 
received a telephone call from the Presi- 
dent telling him of the attack on Pearl 
Harbor. The Japanese emissaries 
handed the secretary the 14-part note, 
which he already had on his desk. "In 
all my fifty years of public service," he 
said with feeling, "I have never seen a 
document that was more crowded with 
infamous falsehoods and distortions — 
infamous falsehoods and distortions on 
a scale so huge that I never imagined 
until today that any Government on this 

Pearl Harbor Report, pp. 219-28. 

planet was capable of uttering them." 27 
The Japanese left without making any 

In Tokyo, Ambassador Grew received 
from Foreign Minister Togo the Japa- 
nese note breaking off the negotiations 
about four hours later (approximately 
0800, Tokyo time) . Later that morning, 
after Japanese bombs had fallen on 
Hawaii, Guam, and Wake, after Japa- 
nese forces had attacked the Philippines, 
Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and Japa- 
nese troops had landed in Malaya, Mr. 
Grew received an announcement that a 
state of war existed between Japan and 
the United States. Around noon, Pre- 
mier Tojo read to "a stunned and silent 
nation" the Imperial Rescript declaring 
war. The broadcast closed on the martial 
strains of "Umi Yukaba": 
Across the sea, corpses in the water; 
Across the mountain, corpses in the field; 
I shall die only for the Emperor, 
I shall never look back. 28 


From the vantage point of hindsight, 
Japan's decision to go to war appears 
as a supreme act of folly. By this deci- 
sion, the Japanese leaders appear to have 
deliberately committed their country to 
a hopeless struggle against a coalition 
vastly superior in potential industrial 
and military strength. The Pearl Har- 
bor attack, which brought the United 
States into the war, has been character- 
ized as politically "disastrous" and stra- 
tegically "idiotic." "One can search 
military history in vain," writes the 
historian of naval operations in World 

" Pearl Harbor Report, p. 41. 

" Japanese Opns in Southwest Pacific Area, Hist 
series II, p. 41, OCMH. 


War II, "for an operation more fatal 
to the aggressor." 29 

To the Japanese the decision to go 
to war was a difficult choice, made only 
under the greatest necessity and with an 
awareness of the danger involved. But, 
after calculating all the risks, the Japa- 
nese believed they had a fair chance 
of success. They fully appreciated the 
industrial potential of the United States 
and that nation's ability to fight a major 
war on two fronts. But they had to 
accept this risk, as General Tojo said, 
"in order to tide over the present crisis 
for self -existence and self-defense." 30 
They recognized, too, that victory would 
have to be won quickly and that the 
longer the war lasted the more disadvan- 
tageous would Japan's position vis-a-vis 
the United States become. Their plans 
provided for such a victory, but made 
no provision for the defeat of the United 
States or Great Britain. The Japanese 
intended to fight a limited war for lim- 
ited objectives and having once secured 
these objectives they planned to set up 
a defense in such depth and of such 
strength that the Allies would prefer 
a settlement to the long and costly war 
that would be required to reduce these 

"Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, p. 132. 
Admiral Stark later recalled a conversation with 
Nomura, to whom he said, prophetically: "If you 
attack us we will break your empire before we are 
through with you. While you may have initial success 
due to timing and surprise, the time will come when 
you too will have your losses but there will be this 
great difference. You not only will be unable to make 
up your losses but will grow weaker as time goes on; 
while on the other hand we not only will make up 
our losses but will grow stronger as time goes on. It 
is inevitable that we shall crush you before we are 
through with you." Nomura made no reply. Ltr, 
Stark to Hoover, 5 Aug 59, OCMH. 

"Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, 
Japanese Studies in World War II, 150, p. 37. 


Kurusu and Nomura in Washington, 
December 1941. 

defenses. To the Japanese leaders, this 
seemed an entirely reasonable view. 

Perhaps the major error of the Japa- 
nese was their decision to attack the 
United States when the main objective 
of the war was to gain the strategic 
resources of Southeast Asia. Had they 
bypassed the Philippines and rejected 
Yamamoto's plan for the strike against 
Pearl Harbor, it is possible that the 
United States might not have gone to 
war, or, if it had, that the American 
people would have been more favorably 
disposed toward a negotiated peace. 
While the Japanese would have had to 
accept certain risks in following such a 
course, they would not have forced the 
United States to declare war. The Presi- 
dent and his chief advisers were prepared 
to ask Congress for a declaration of war 
if Japan attacked Great Britain. The 



Japanese knew this, but they did not 
know, or seriously miscalculated, the 
strength of isolationist sentiment in the 
United States. To a large part of the 
American people, a war with Japan over 
Malaya or the Netherlands Indies would 
have appeared as an effort to pull Brit- 
ish and Dutch chestnuts out of the fire. 
Such a war would have split the country 
and made difficult the full mobilization 
of American and industrial might. "I 
don't know," Hull remarked later to 
Admiral Stark, "whether we would have 
been in the war yet if Japan had not 
attacked us." 31 

The United States Government was in 
a difficult position in the winter of 1941. 
It was committed to a major effort in 
the Atlantic and the support of the Brit- 
ish Isles but had drawn a line in the 
Far East beyond which it would not 
permit Japan to go. At the same time, 
it was preparing for offensive operations 
against Japan, preparations that would 
be completed within several months. 
Had Japan, without abandoning its aims 
in Southeast Asia, sedulously avoided any 
overt act against the United States — a 
course that was debated in Tokyo until 
the end of November — the administra- 
tion would have been faced with a dis- 
tasteful choice: (1) to declare war 
against Japan and risk an unpopular 
war, or (2) to stand idly by while the 
Japanese secured the rich resources of 
Malaya and the Indies which would 
enable them to push the war in China. 
The Japanese, by attacking Pearl Har- 
bor, made a choice unnecessary and uni- 
fied the American people as nothing else 
could have done. "Like Adam and Eve," 
says the British military historian, Maj, 

M Ltr, Stark to Hoover, 5 Aug 59, OCMH. 

Gen. John F. C. Fuller, "the Americans 
discovered they were naked. Their eyes 
were most unexpectedly opened, and 
they suddenly realized that they had been 
living in a fool's paradise. . . ." 32 

The Japanese placed great reliance 
for the success of their plans on the 
situation in Europe. Even if Germany 
did not defeat England or Soviet Russia 
they thought there was little possibility 
of peace. They did not expect an early 
invasion of England, but did anticipate 
that Germany would establish control 
of the European continent in the near 
future. And even if Germany did not 
defeat England or the Soviet Union, 
both those nations would be too pre- 
occupied to make a major effort in the 
Far East. The possibility of Soviet action 
in Manchuria or American use of Soviet 
bases in Asia was not discounted and 
provision was made in the plan for either 
contingency. But such action, it was 
believed, would not come until after 
the southern area had been seized. 

"Maj. Gen. J. F. C. Fuller, The Second World War, 
1939-194} (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949), 
p. 133. Evidence on public opinion is not conclusive. 
A Gallup poll reported in the New York Times for 
23 February 1941 found that although 56 percent of 
those polled were in favor of an effort "to keep Japan 
from seizing the Dutch East Indies and Singapore," 
only 39 percent supported risking war in such an 
attempt. Again, in August 1941, a Fortune poll 
showed that 33.7 percent of those polled were in 
favor of defending the Philippines, East Indies, and 
Australia, and only 82.3 percent favored the defense 
of an unspecified portion of this area. The conclusion 
of John W. Masland, writing in 1941, was that "pow- 
erful commercial interests and articulate isolationist 
pressure groups" opposed American opposition of 
Japan. John W. Masland, "American Attitudes To- 
ward Japan," Annals of the American Academy of 
Political and Social Science (May 1941), p. 165. See 
also Public Opinion, 1915-1946, prepared by Mildred 
Strunk under editorial direction of Hadley Contril 
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1951), 
p. 1077, items 33-35, 3 8 < 39- 



Considering the alternatives, the inter- 
national situation in the fall of 1941, 
and the risks, the Japanese plan was not 
altogether as unrealistic as it has ap- 
peared to many. The seizure of South- 
east Asia and the time allotted did not 
seem too difficult, and with the resources 
of this area the Japanese believed they 
could wage a defensive war along their 
outer perimeter for a long time. Cer- 
tainly this course, even with its risks, 
was preferable from their point of view 
to submission. 

In the view of the leaders of Japan, 
there was no honorable choice but war. 

The United States and Great Britain, 
they were convinced, were bent on de- 
stroying Japan or reducing it to a minor 
power. Submission was unthinkable and 
Japan had no alternative, "but to reso- 
lutely plunge into war" while it still had 
the power to do so. The nation entered 
the war, wrote a prince of the Imperial 
family, "with a tragic determination and 
in desperate self-abandonment." If it 
lost, "there will be nothing to regret 
because she is doomed to collapse even 
without war." 33 

"Statement of Prince Higashikuni, 9 Jun 49, ATIS, 
G-a FEC, copy in OCMH. 



With broken heart and head bowed in sadness but not in shame, 
I report to your Excellency that today I must arrange terms for the 
surrender of the fortified islands of Manila Bay. . . . With profound 
regret and with continued pride in my gallant troops, I go to meet the 
Japanese commander. 

General Wainwright to President Roosevelt, 6 May 1942 

Why, victor, dost thou exult? The victory will be your ruin. 



The First Weeks of War, 7—26 December 

Mars, unscrupulous god of war, rages throughout the world. 


When the Japanese opened hostilities 
in the Pacific they struck with such dra- 
matic suddenness, at so many points, 
and over so vast an area that the Ameri- 
cans, whose eyes were fixed on the Phil- 
ippines and Southeast Asia, were taken 
completely by surprise. Almost simul- 
taneously the Japanese attacked Hawaii, 
the Philippines, Wake, Guam, Singapore, 
Hong Kong, Malaya and Thailand. All 
these assaults, even the one against Pearl 
Harbor, had been foreseen but no one 
had anticipated that they would all be 
made at once, on the first day of war. 

The Japanese Offensive: First Phase 

In the Japanese plan for war, the 
5-month period allotted to the seizure 
of the southern area, supporting opera- 
tions, and the capture of positions nec- 
essary to establish a strong defensive 
perimeter was divided into three phases. 
The first phase consisted of six separate 
and widely scattered operations, synchro- 
nized to obtain the maximum advantage 
of surprise, and timed to begin simulta- 
neously on the date set for war. On that 
day Japanese forces would launch the 
attack on Pearl Harbor to destroy or 
neutralize the U.S. Pacific Fleet; cut the 
line of communications to the Philip- 

pines by occupying Guam, Wake, and 
the Gilberts; destroy American air power 
in the Philippines to remove the threat 
to their own right flank and as a prelude 
to the invasion of the islands; occupy 
Thailand to secure a base for operations 
against Malaya and Burma; land in 
northern Malaya and on the Isthmus of 
Kra to begin the drive toward Singapore 
off the base of the Malaya Peninsula; 
and take over the British outpost at 

Hong Kong. (Map I) 

The force assigned to the Pearl Harbor 
attack — 4 heavy and 2 light carriers sup- 
ported by 2 fast battleships, 2 heavy 
cruisers, a destroyer squadron, subma- 
rines, tankers, and supply ships — left the 
assembly area in Tankan Bay in the des- 
olate, snowbound Kurils on 26 Novem- 
ber, Tokyo time. Following a northerly 
route across the Pacific, well off the 
shipping lanes and beyond the range of 
patrol planes from Wake and Midway, 
Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo took his 
formidable fleet eastward through fog 
and rough sea and early on the 4th of 
December, after the weather had mod- 
erated sufficiently to permit refueling, 
reached a point about 900 miles north 
of Midway. There the fleet turned south- 
east until it was about 500 miles north 
of Oahu. Then it shifted course due 



south for the final run to the target at 
a speed of twenty-four knots. It was now 
2100 of the 6th, Hawaiian time (1700 of 
the 7th Tokyo time) . In less than nine 
hours, just before 0600 of the 7th, the 
carriers had reached their launching 
point some 200 miles north of Oahu, 
having come 3,000 miles across the 
Pacific, much of it by dead reckoning, 
without detection. Immediately the 
heavy cruisers sent up four reconnais- 
sance planes. Except for the richest 
prize, the three carriers and their escort, 
the entire Pacific Fleet was in port. 1 

It was still dark when the Japanese 
pilots, cheered by shouts of "Banzai" 
from their comrades, took off from the 
carriers. The first wave of 183 planes 
was formed and headed for Oahu by 
0615, to be followed an hour later by 
a second wave of 167 planes. Already 
a force consisting of Japan's most mod- 
ern submarines, based on Kwajalein in 
the Marshalls, had taken up positions 
covering the entrance to Pearl Harbor, 
and five midget submarines were mak- 
ing their way toward the open submarine 

Flying at feet, above a dense 
but broken layer of clouds, into a mag- 
nificent sunrise, the first wave of aircraft 
reached Oahu, "still asleep in the morn- 
ing mist," at 0750. Part of the formation 
headed for the Army's Wheeler and 
Hickam airfields; the rest for the fleet 
anchorage at Ford Island. Five minutes 
later, after at least three of the midget 
submarines had penetrated into the har- 

1 The account which follows is based on Japanese 
Opns in SWPA, pp. 68-71; Japan's Decision to Fight, 
ATIS Research Rpt No. 131; Morison, The Rising 
Sun in the Pacific, pp. 8 8-95; Craven and Cate, AAF 
I, pp. 194-aoi; Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, 
pp. 78-79. 

bor, the Japanese planes dropped their 
first bombs. 

The next two hours of that Sabbath 
morning on Oahu, where all attention 
up to then had been focused on the 
possibility pf sabotage, were a nightmare. 
Bombs and torpedoes dropped every- 
where, on ships in the harbor, on Army 
installations, on depots, and other tar- 
gets. Dive bombers machine-gunned 
parked planes and the ground crews 
rushed pell-mell to their battle stations. 
Within a half hour almost all the great 
ships lined up in "Battleship Row" had 
been hit. Oklahoma capsized, West Vir- 
ginia sank, Arizona was aflame, and Cali- 
fornia was going down. Hickam and 
Wheeler Fields, hit in the first attack, 
suffered badly. The Army planes, parked 
in close order, wing tip to wing tip, 
were perfect targets. 

By 1000 the raid was over and the 
Japanese planes were heading north to- 
ward the carriers. Thr,ee hours later the 
carriers were speeding away to the north- 
west, still undetected, leaving behind 
them on Oahu death and destruction. 
Some of the submarines remained in 
Hawaiian waters until early January, a 
few venturing as far as the west coast, 
to report on the movements of the 
Pacific Fleet and to attack American 

The results achieved by the raid were 
a complete vindication of Admiral Yama- 
moto, originator of the plan. The Japa- 
nese pilots had studied their charts and 
intelligence reports well and knew ex- 
actly what to go after. Though there 
were 94 naval vessels in the harbor, they 
concentrated on the battle force of the 
Pacific Fleet, sinking or putting out of 
action in less than two hours 8 battle- 
ships, 3 light cruisers, 3 destroyers, and 



a number of auxiliary vessels. They 
also destroyed 92 naval planes and dam- 
aged 31 more. The Army lost a total 
of 96 aircraft, including those destroyed 
in depots and those later cannibalized. 
American casualties for the day were 
2,403 men killed and 1,178 wounded, 
most of them naval personnel. 2 

Despite the enormous damage they 
wrought, the Japanese had failed to take 
full advantage of their opportunity. For 
some unaccountable reason they over- 
looked entirely the installations at Pearl, 
the repair shops, the dry dock, and the 
oil tanks then filled to capacity. And 
even less understandable is their failure 
to seek out and destroy the American 
carriers at sea, which, with the cruisers, 
destroyers, and submarines, constituted 
an effective striking force. Both these 
failures cost the Japanese dearly later, 
but for the moment they had good rea- 
son to rejoice. With the loss of only 
about fifty planes and five midget sub- 
marines, they had inflicted on the United 
States what an official Congressional re- 
port described as "the greatest military 
and naval disaster" in the nation's 
history. 3 

While Admiral Nagumo's carrier- 
based planes were immobilizing the U.S. 
Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, other Japa- 

'Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, p. 126. 
These figures are revised estimates and are slightly 
higher than those given in Pearl Harbor Report, pp. 
64—65. Other figures are used in Stetson Conn, Rose 
C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the 
United States and Its Outposts, ch. VII, a volume 
now in preparation for the series UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. The reader should 
consult this work for a fuller treatment of the Army's 
role in the Pearl Harbor attack. 

3 Pear! Harbor Report, p. 65. Admiral Stark wrote 
later, "Had the Japs devoted some of their attack to 
our shops, oil storage, etc. — it would have been a lot 
rougher going for a considerable period." Ltr, Stark 
to Hoover, 5 Aug 59, OCMH. 

nese forces were moving to cut the 
American line of communications to the 
Philippines and to knock out General 
MacArthur's air force. Planes from 
Saipan hit Guam shortly after the Pearl 
Harbor attack, and at about the same 
time planes based on Kwajalein began 
the bombardment of Wake. These at- 
tacks marked the opening of softening- 
up operations which continued for two 
days and on the 10th the invasion force 
moved up. Against Guam, Vice Adm. 
Shigeyoshi Inouye, commander of the 
Fourth Fleet, sent the Army's South Seas 
Detachment plus supporting naval units, 
all together about 5,000 men. Landing 
before dawn on the northwestern and 
eastern shores of Guam, this force 
quickly overcame the small Marine gar- 
rison and the native police and gained 
possession of the island in a matter of 
hours. That same day, the Japanese also 
occupied Makin and Tarawa in the 
British-held Gilbert Islands without 

At Wake, where the defenders were 
more numerous and better prepared, the 
Japanese sent a smaller force and with 
quite different results. Led by Maj. 
James P. S. Devereux, the marines, on 
the morning of the 10th, beat off the 
first landing attempt by about 500 spe- 
cial naval landing troops. The weak 
Japanese force, less two destroyers sunk 
by Marine aircraft, withdrew to Kwa- 
jalein to await reinforcements and was 
back on the 2 2d with 500 more men and 
additional naval and air support, in- 
cluding two carriers diverted from the 
retiring Pearl Harbor force. Early the 
next morning the Japanese landed and 
before the day was over the garrison, 
after a bitter resistance, was forced to 
surrender. A naval expedition, sent to 



"Banzai!" Japanese sailors cheer the Pearl , 
a carrier, 7 December 1941. 

relieve the island, had approached to 
within 425 miles of Wake by the morn- 
ing of 23 December. But when news of 
the surrender reached Hawaii, it was 
ordered to return to Pearl Harbor, to 
the bitter disappointment of the Marine 
aviators aboard the Saratoga. With the 
capture of Wake the Japanese gained 
control of the line of communication 
across the Central Pacific. 4 

As at Pearl Harbor, the keynote to the 
Japanese attack against the Philippines 
was surprise. The first aim was to de- 

4 Heinl, The Defense of Wake; Morison, The 
Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 184-86. A Japanese 
account of these actions is contained in Japanese 
Opns in SWPA, p. 71; a fuller account of the Guam 
action is in Opns of the South Seas Detachment, 
Japanese Studies in World War II, 36. 

rbor attack force as the airplanes take off from 

stroy the Far East Air Force, then land 
advance units to build airstrips for the 
short-range Army fighters which would 
cover the landing and subsequent opera- 
tions of the main invasion force when it 
came ashore later. The task of conquer- 
ing the Philippines was assigned to Lt. 
Gen. Masaharu Homma's 14th Army; 
naval support would be provided by the 
3d Fleet assisted by elements of the 2d 
Fleet; air support, by the 5th Air Group 
and nth Air Fleet. The main staging 
area for the invasion force was Formosa, 
but units staged from the Ryukyus, 
Pescadores, and Palau as well. Naval air- 
craft of the nth Air Fleet based on For- 
mosa were to deliver the main attack on 
American air installations in central 







Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941 

Luzon and Army aircraft, which had a 
shorter range, would strike targets to the 
north. 5 

The opening air offensive was planned 
for daylight of the 8th — the 7th east of 
the date line — about three hours after 
the raid on Pearl Harbor. Simultaneous 
action was impossible, for the sun rose 
earlier in Hawaii. But even this plan 
for a 3-hour delay went awry, for at 
dawn of the 8th dense clouds of heavy 
fog blanketed the Formosa airfields. The 
Japanese were filled with dismay. As the 
early morning hours rolled by, their 
anxiety increased. The Americans, they 

"For a full account of this plan and of the events 
which follow ed, see Morton, The Fall of the Philip- 
pines, \ch. V,\ passim. 

were sure, would by now have news of 
the Pearl Harbor raid and would have 
taken precautions against air attack. 
Even more frightening was the possibil- 
ity that this delay would enable the 
heavy bombers of the Far East Air Force 
to attack Formosa. Indeed, after an 
erroneous report and a misunderstood 
radio message, the alarmed Japanese 
began passing out gas masks. 

News of the Pearl Harbor attack had 
indeed reached Manila, as the Japanese 
feared. The Navy radio picked up the 
message announcing the raid at 0230 of 
the 8th (0800, 7 December, Hawaiian 
time) , and within two hours all com- 
manders had been alerted and troops 
ordered to battle positions. At about 



0500, Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, com- 
mander of the Far East Air Force, was 
waiting outside MacArthur's office for 
permission to send his B-17's, half of 
which had been moved south to Del 
Monte airfield in Mindanao, against 
Formosa. The events which followed 
have been obscured by the conflicting 
statements of the several participants, 
but this much is clear: (1) That an at- 
tack against Formosa was proposed; (2) 
that it was deferred in favor of a photo 
reconnaissance mission; (3) that at about 
1100 the strike against Formosa was 
finally authorized; and (4) that the 
heavy bombers at Clark Field, which 
had been ordered aloft at about 0800 
were called in to make ready for the raid 
on Formosa. 8 

Despite the fog a few Japanese Army 
aircraft had taken off from Formosa and 
bombed targets in northern Luzon be- 
tween 0930 and 1030. Finally at 1015, 
as the fog began to lift, the nth Air 
Fleet sent its planes out for the attack 
on Clark Field. The assignment was an 
important one and the pilots of the 192 
aircraft assigned to the mission were the 
best and most experienced men availa- 
ble. They arrived over the target at 
about 1220 to find the B-17's lined up 
on the field below and the fighters 
readying for a take-off. After the delay 
in getting started and the lapse of time 
since the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japa- 
nese had not expected to find so rich a 
harvest. But they did not question their 
good fortune and went in for the attack. 

The raid lasted for more than an 
hour, the first flights concentrating on 

"A full account of the events preceding the attack 
on Clark Field c an be found in Morton, The Fall of 
the Philippines, | pp. 79-84. | 

the hangars, barracks, and warehouses. 
The greatest casualties were inflicted by 
the low-level attacks of the Zeros, which 
destroyed and damaged 17 or 18 B-17's 
and 18 P-40's — almost the entire force 
based at Clark — on the ground. Casu- 
alties were fifty-five killed and more 
than a hundred wounded. Japanese 
losses could not have been more than six 
fighters. The two squadrons of B-i7*s 
which had been transferred to the Del 
Monte airfield in Mindanao escaped the 

Simultaneously with the raid on Clark 
Field the Japanese struck the fighter base 
at Iba, to the west, destroying all but two 
of the P-40's there as well as the radar 
station, barracks, warehouses, and equip- 
ment. Before dawn the next day they 
hit Nichols Field near Manila, and on 
the 10th the naval yard at Cavite, which 
they practically destroyed. Thus, in two 
days and with insignificant casualties the 
Japanese virtually wiped out America's 
air power in the Far East and removed 
the threat to the flank of their advances 

At the start of war most of the surface 
strength of the small U.S. Asiatic Fleet 
was based south of Manila Bay, in the 
Visayas. By evening of the 8th, the 
fleet, except for the submarines and 
auxiliary craft, was steaming south out 
of Philippine waters. On the 14th, Pa- 
trol Wing 10 and three tenders followed, 
and two days later the remaining B-17's 
flew from Mindanao to Darwin in 
northwest Australia. 

The Japanese began their landings in 
the Philippines on the first day of war on 
Batan Island, 150 miles north of Luzon. 
On the 10th, they made two more land- 
ings, one at Aparri and one at Vigan, in 
northern Luzon, and two days later more 



The Philippines 

The shift in focus of interest from Ha- 
waii to the western Pacific evidenced by 
the higher priority given Australia and 
the Philippines on 24 December was the 
culmination of a dispute that had begun 
on the first day of war. The issue had 
been raised by the necessity for deciding 
the fate of a convoy of seven ships, es- 
corted by the cruiser Pensacola and 
carrying men and munitions to Manila 
via the South Pacific route. The Navy 
had, on the 8th, ordered the Pensacola 
convoy to put in at Suva in the Fijis 
to await further orders, and on the gth, 
at a meeting of the Joint Board, pro- 
posed that the ships be brought back to 
Hawaii to reinforce that badly battered 
garrison. The Army members of the 
board, notably General Gerow, support- 
ed this view and suggested further that 
a portion of the convoy might be re- 
turned to the United States. Following 
discussion the board agreed that the 
convoy should be ordered back to 
Hawaii. General Marshall concurred 
without comment. 34 

This decision of the Joint Board rep- 
resented virtually the abandonment of 
the Philippines. There was ample prec- 
edent for such a policy in the prewar 
studies of the planners, approved by the 
Joint Board, demonstrating that the 
Philippines could not be held in the face 
of a determined Japanese attack. But 
between July and December 1941 there 
had been a reversal of that view and the 
inauguration of a large-scale program of 

"Mins, JB Mtg, 8 and 9 Dec 41. In the convoy was 
a field artillery brigade, eighteen P-40S, fifty-two 
A-24's, a large quantity of ammunition and miscel- 
laneous equipment, many vehicles and about 5,000 
troop*. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 776, is 
Dec 41, WPD 4648. 

reinforcements designed to make the 
islands strong enough to resist invasion. 
The program was still incomplete when 
war came and it was evident at once that 
the defense of the islands had become, 
as Secretary Stimson wrote, "once more 
the desperate and losing struggle which 
had been forecast in the planning of 
earlier years." 35 

Though the action of the Joint Board 
in ordering the Pensacola convoy back 
to Hawaii may have been necessary for 
military reasons, it overlooked the moral, 
psychological, and political considera- 
tions which affected the attitude of 
America toward the Philippines and its 
position in the Far East. Though these 
considerations were not, perhaps, strictly 
within the province of the Army and 
Navy planners, their existence and po- 
tential importance had been recognized 
in some of the early studies. As late as 
December 1940 the two service Secre- 
taries and the President had approved a 
Joint Board study that made the point 
that in the event of war with Germany 
and Japan, the decision to make the 
main effort in the Atlantic initially 
might well be endangered "should Japa- 
nese success seem imminent." Public 
opinion, the board had suggested then, 
might lead to heavy pressure "to support 
the forces engaged in the Far East instead 
of leaving them to their fate" and result 
in stronger effort in that area than pro- 
vided for in the plans. 36 

Though no war plans that took into 
full account the moral and political fac- 
tors of the situation in the Far East were 
ever made, it was these factors that ulti- 
mately decided the strategy of the United 

"Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, p. 395. 
"Memo, CNO for CofS, 15 Dec 41, Incl: Extract 
from JB 335, ser. 670, 21 Dec 40, WPD 4561—10. 



The success of the Japanese at Pearl 
Harbor, in the Philippines, and in 
China was, in a sense, meaningless with- 
out similar successes in the principal 
theater of operations, Southeast Asia. It 
was there that the strategic resources 
Japan needed so badly were and it was 
there that the Japanese concentrated 
their main strength — three armies, with 
supporting air and naval forces. Malaya 
and Singapore were to be taken by Lt. 
Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita's 2j,th Army; 
the Netherlands Indies by the 16th 
Army, and Burma by the 15th. The 3d 
Air Group, based in south China and 
northern Indochina, and the Southern 
Expeditionary Fleet were to support the 
forces in Malaya. 

Advance units of the 25th Army left 
Hainan Island on 4 December and on 
the morning of the 8th began landing at 
Singora and Pattani in southern Thai- 
land, and at Kota Bharu, just across the 
border, in British Malaya. At the same 
time Japanese aircraft in Indochina 
bombed military installations in Singa- 
pore. The first two landings were unop- 
posed, and even assisted by local Thai 
authorities, but the Kota Bharu force 
came under strong attack from British 
aircraft and beach defense guns and 
withdrew with heavy losses. Later in the 
day, with stronger air protection, the 
Japanese tried again and this time suc- 
ceeded in establishing a beachhead. On 
the evening of the gth, the main body of 
the 25th Army began to arrive, and next 
day Japanese land-based naval aircraft 
removed the last danger to the beach- 
head by sinking the Prince of Wales and 
Repulse, which had ventured forth from 
Singapore without air cover. The loss 

of these two warships signaled the end 
of British naval power in the Far East. 

With the occupation of Singora, 
Pattani, and Kota Bharu, General Yama- 
shita was soon able to gain control of 
the air over Malaya and close support 
for his ground forces. Deployed in par- 
allel columns along the east and west 
coasts of the peninsula, the 2}th Army 
began its drive toward Johore Bharu 
just across the strait from Singapore. By 
Christmas it was only 150 miles from its 

While the campaign for Malaya was 
moving forward rapidly, the Japanese 
took steps to gain control over Thailand. 
On the first day of war, elements of the 
Imperial Guards Division, stationed in 
Indochina and attached to the 15th 
Army, moved across the border into 
Thailand while other elements of the 
division were landed at points along the 
narrow Kra Isthmus. The Thailanders 
offered no opposition and, after consoli- 
dating their position the Japanese began 
to assemble their forces in Thailand for 
the invasion of Burma. 

Japanese operations in Indonesia, 
which in this phase included only the 
seizure of positions in Borneo, met with 
the same success as had operations else- 
where. From Camranh Bay in French 
Indochina came the force which made 
the first landings in British Borneo. 
Composed of three battalions of infantry 
and special naval troops, covered by 1 
carrier, 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, and 4 
destroyers, this force embarked on 13 
December and three days later landed 
near Miri where it promptly occupied 
an airstrip and seized the partially de- 
stroyed oil fields. On the 24th it made 



an amphibious hop to Kuching, capital 
of Sarawak, a native state in northwest 
Borneo ruled by a British rajah. 8 

Their success in the opening weeks of 
the war exceeded the expectations of 
even the most optimistic Japanese lead- 
ers. By Christmas they had achieved all 
of the objectives outlined in their plan 
for the first phase of the war and were 
well on their way to completing the sec- 
ond phase. Except for the temporary 
setbacks at Wake and Kota Bharu, oper- 
ations had proceeded with a smoothness 
rare in war. American and British forces 
everywhere had been decisively beaten 
and were on the defensive; the safety of 
the home islands was assured, and the 
resources of Southeast Asia were within 
grasp. Never were Japan's self-esteem 
and its prestige in Asia so high; the 
fortunes of the Allies so low. 

The amazing success of the Japanese 
can be attributed as much to the unpre- 
paredness of the Allies and the sudden- 
ness of the attack as to the superiority of 
Japanese tactics, troops, and equipment. 
By concentrating overwhelming air and 
naval power for the attack and striking 
with a swiftness that gained for them the 
full advantage of surprise, they were 
able to win their objectives with a min- 
imum of losses. From each new base 
they moved forward in the same manner, 
always achieving local air and naval 
supremacy before landing their troops. 
They avoided direct assault against forti- 

8 Operations in Malaya, Thailand, and Borneo are 
described in Kirby, et al, The Loss of Singapore; 
Japanese Opns in SWPA, pp. 72—75; Morison, The 
Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 187—92; Despatches of 
Lt Gen A. E. Percival and Air Chief Marshal Sir 
Robert Brook-Popham in the Supplement to the 
London Gazette, January 22 and February 26, 1948; 
Borneo Opns, 1941—42, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 22; and 25th Army Opns in Malaya, same 
series, 85. 

fied positions, using flanking maneuvers 
where possible. And when they could 
not avoid direct assault they struck at 
night and pushed on, regardless of loss. 
Their first objectives were always air- 
fields, and air power (land- and carrier- 
based) dominated their operations 
during these first weeks of war, as it 
would dominate Allied operations later 
in the war. 

Meeting the Emergency 

The first reaction in Washington to 
Admiral Kimmel's message — "Air raid 
on Pearl Harbor. This is not drill" — 
received at 1350 of the 7th, was one of 
surprise and shock. "My God," ex- 
claimed Secretary Knox incredulously, 
"this can't be true. This must mean the 
Philippines." He immediately tele- 
phoned the White House where Mr. 
Roosevelt, who was lunching with Harry 
Hopkins, remarked that "the Japanese 
had made the decision for him." Hull 
had the news before the Japanese Am- 
bassadors arrived for their final meeting 
and expressed himself, when they ap- 
peared, in "pretty strong Tennessee 
mountain language." Stimson, who re- 
ceived the startling report a short time 
later, was astonished that the Japanese 
should have chosen Hawaii as "the point 
of attack." 8 

As soon as confirmation of the first 
report was received by telephone from 
Oahu, the Army and Navy put into ef- 
fect their war plans. Messages went out 
to all commanders informing them that 
Japan had opened hostilities and 
directing them to carry out the tasks 

'Quotes are from Pearl Harbor Report, p. 439; 
Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, p. 391; Sher- 
wood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 431. 



assigned in Rainbow 5, so far as they 
pertained to Japan. In Hawaii there was 
confusion over references to a warning 
about a Japanese attack, and it was not 
until 1500 that the confusion was re- 
solved by the receipt of the long-delayed 
message Marshall had sent shortly before 
noon. 10 The command there made a 
quick recovery from the attack and be- 
fore the end of the day had instituted 
martial law in the islands, taken stock 
of its losses, and sent oft an urgent plea 
for heavy bombers and fighters. 11 

With the War Department's message 
to General MacArthur invoking Rain- 
bow 5 went assurances of confidence and 
"every possible assistance and support 
within our power." No word had been 
received from the Philippines and when 
this message failed to evoke any response 
General Marshall sent still another ask- 
ing whether the Philippines had yet 
been attacked. Finally, General Gerow 
was able to establish telephone commu- 
nications with Manila and talk to Mac- 
Arthur. He had known since about 0300 
(Manila time) of the Pearl Harbor 
raid, MacArthur said, but there had 
been no attacks as yet and, he told 
Gerow, "our tails are up." General 
Arnold, too, talked by telephone with 
his air commander in the Philippines, 
General Brereton, and warned him spe- 
cifically against a surprise Japanese at- 
tack. 12 A short time later came news of 
the Japanese attack against Clark Field. 

10 Affidavit of Capt. William B. Cobb, cited in His- 
tory o£ United States Army Forces, Middle Pacific 
and Predecessor Commands During World War II 
{hereafter cited as USAFMIDPAC Hist), pt. I, vol. 1, 
p. 58, copy in OCMH. 

"Rad, Short and Martin to TAG, No. 1068, 7 Dec 
41, AG 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East. 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, Nos 736 and 737, 
7 Dec 41, AG 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East; Record 

That day and the next, more news, all 
of it bad, continued to trickle into 
Washington. The Japanese bombings 
of Guam, Wake, Hong Kong, and Singa- 
pore and their landings in Malaya and 
Thailand were noted but without much 
surprise. Most of these attacks had been 
expected and none had the impact of 
Pearl Harbor and Clark Field. What was 
most alarming was the lack of informa- 
tion on the size and location of the force 
which had hit Pearl Harbor. For all 
anyone knew it might return to Pearl 
Harbor to bomb the installations over- 
looked before. Or it might be on its way 
to the Panama Canal or the unguarded 
west coast of the United States. Seattle 
had only one 3-inch gun and one auto- 
matic weapons battery; San Francisco, 
an antiaircraft brigade, and Los Angeles 
a regiment — and all those cities and 
many others were clamoring for more 
protection. Hawaii needed more planes, 
guns, and men; help would have to be 
sent to General MacArthur; and Pan- 
ama was too vital to be ignored. Be- 
tween San Francisco and Hawaii were 
three transports carrying men and sup- 
plies and farther west was a large convoy 
headed for Manila. All these problems 
and many more had to be solved at once, 
in an atmosphere of frenzied activity and 
deep concern over where the blow would 
fall next. 

Complicating the task of commanders 
in Washington and in the Pacific was 
the inevitable flood of rumors and specu- 
lations, some of which were given cred- 
ence in the highest official circles. 
Japanese aircraft were reported over Los 
Angeles, San Francisco, and other west 

of Tel Conv between Gerow and MacArthur, WPD 
4622; Henry H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1949), p. 272. 



coast cities on the first day of war and 
for days thereafter. Pilots mistook float- 
ing logs for submarines and every vessel 
for a Japanese carrier. On the day fol- 
lowing Pearl Harbor there was an alert 
in San Francisco and the schools in Oak- 
land were closed on the basis of a report 
that enemy carriers were off the coast of 
California. Another report, which came 
from the Chief of Staff, alerted the West- 
ern Defense commander to the presence 
of a hostile force believed to be only 
400 miles away. 

In Hawaii, where "invasion fever" ran 
high, the rumors were even wilder. 
There were at least a dozen reports of 
paratroop landings in different places 
on the 7th, and Japanese voices were 
heard constantly on short wave radio. 
People saw flashing signal lights, flares, 
swatches cut in sugar cane fields to form 
arrows pointing at vital installations. 
Word that the water supply of Hono- 
lulu had been poisoned spread rapidly, 
and Japanese landing parties were ob- 
served at various points. The wildest 
tales were believed. A truck that had 
been delivering milk for months to 
Hickam Field became, on the morning 
of the 7th, a Japanese armored vehicle, 
complete with troops and machine guns. 
Japanese cars and trucks were supposed 
to have deliberately created traffic jams 
on the roads leading to military installa- 
tions. Japanese pilots wore civilian 
clothes, it was thought, so that they could 
mingle with the civil population if they 
were shot down. Finally, it was reliably 
reported that on a specified kilocycle a 
message — "Chopsticks, I don't want to set 
the world on fire. Why can't it happen 
again tonight" — was heard, and all prep- 
arations were made for another attack on 
Pearl Harbor. 

The excitable Filipinos saw as many 
specters as did the Hawaiians and Ameri- 
cans. Many of the Japanese bombers 
which hit Clark and Nichols Fields were 
believed to be piloted by Caucasians — 
presumably Germans. Arrows, like those 
in the sugar fields of Oahu, but formed 
by headlights, pointed at military tar- 
gets; Japanese voices were heard over 
short wave. There were reports, as in 
Hawaii, of landings, of Japanese carriers 
off the coast, of paratroopers, poisoned 
water supply, and of active fifth colum- 
nists. As elsewhere, these reports had 
to be checked, and the staff kept busy 
searching for the grain, of truth in the 
wild rumors that came in over the 
wires. 13 

Matters of grand strategy required lit- 
tle attention during the first days of the 
war. There was no disagreement about 
them, and they had little relevance to the 
immediate problems facing the Army 
and Navy. The staff conversations with 
the British early in the year had pro- 
vided a global strategy and a basis for 
concerted action "so that at the very 
beginning," as General Marshall later 
explained, "we had a fair understanding 
of what we had best do rather than the 
necessity of engaging in prolonged con- 
versations. . . ." 14 This understanding, 
which included a recognition that Ger- 
many was the main enemy and that the 
major effort would be made initially in 
Europe, was obviously not applicable in 
the present situation. Of first import- 
ance now was the necessity to check the 
Japanese, to unify and co-ordinate "the 

"USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. I, vol. 2, app. gE; Craven 
and Cate, AA F I, pp. 2?8-7g; Morton, The Fall 0/ 
the Philippines, p. ii5.|For rumors received in Wash- 

ington see OCS iiilOg-g and WPD 4628-13. 
"Pearl Harbor Attach Hearings, pt. 3, p. 1222. 



President Roosevelt signs the Declara- 
tion of War, December 1941. 

forces of all opposition to Japan in the 
Far East, with special reference to the 
South Seas area." 15 

It was to this task and to the imme- 
diate measures required to put the nation 
on a war footing that the President and 
his chief military and naval advisers ad- 
dressed themselves on the outbreak of 
war. On the afternoon of the yth, only 
a few hours after the Pearl Harbor at- 
tack, the President met with his War 
Council to consider what must be done. 
Those present at the meeting — Hull, 
Stimson, Knox, Marshall, and Stark — 
agreed that America's position in the 
Far East had been greatly weakened but 
that the Japanese attack had mobilized 
the nation as nothing else could have. 
They recognized the necessity for con- 

Hull, Memoirs, II, 1113. 

tinuing shipments of war materials to 
Britain and the Soviet Union, and dis- 
cussed at length the specific measures 
required to redress the naval balance in 
the Pacific and to defend vital installa- 
tions in the United States and overseas. 
The President also told his advisors 
during the meeting that he would go 
before Congress next day to ask for a 
declaration of war. 

Relations with the European Axis was 
one of the most troublesome questions 
facing the President. Japan alone had 
attacked the United States, but American 
strategy was oriented toward Europe and 
the nation was committed to the support 
of the powers fighting Germany and 
Italy as well as Japan. A declaration of 
war against the European Axis, without 
provocation, might arouse opposition in 
Congress and in the country. That there 
was no intention of abandoning England 
and the Soviet Union had been made 
clear in the meeting of the War Council, 
and again, later in the day, when Mr. 
Churchill telephoned the President to 
offer his support and say that he intend- 
ed to go before the House of Commons 
to ask for a declaration of war against 
Japan. He proposed also that he come 
to Washington with his principal mili- 
tary advisers to discuss the changed situ- 
ation now that "we are all in the same 
boat." To this, Roosevelt had promptly 
agreed. 18 

The question of relations with the 
European Axis was discussed on the eve- 
ning of the 7 th in a Cabinet meeting 
which Roosevelt termed the most serious 
"since Lincoln met with his Cabinet at 
the outbreak of the Civil War." 17 The 

"Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 432-33. 
439; Hull, Memoirs, II, 1059—1100. 

"Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 433. 



draft message he read to the Cabinet 
members contained no mention of Ger- 
many or Italy. Evidently, in the belief 
that these nations would support Japan, 
he preferred to wait and let them declare 
war first. Later that night the President 
reviewed the situation with Congres- 
sional leaders and the next day went be- 
fore Congress which, with only one 
dissenting vote, approved the declara- 
tion of war against Japan. Great Britain, 
the Netherlands Government-in-exile, 
the British Dominions, and various Cen- 
tral American republics followed suit 
soon after. It was not until the 1 1 th that 
Germany and Italy declared war against 
the United States, thus ending the un- 
certainty of America's relations with the 
European Axis. 


The significance of the damage in- 
flicted on the Pacific Fleet on the first 
day of war was apparent almost imme- 
diately. The offensive power of the 
fleet, it seemed, had been shattered and 
its ability to defend Hawaii and to pro- 
vide a screen for the west coast and the 
Panama Canal greatly reduced. In fact, 
there was a "grave possibility," the Navy 
planners thought, that "the Japanese 
might capture the Hawaiian Islands." 18 
On the 8th, therefore, the Navy changed 
Admiral Kimmel's instructions, and, in 
effect modified Rainbow 5 and ABC-i. 

18 Mins, JB Mtg, 8 Dec 41. Admiral Stark, though 
he did not minimize the seriousness of the damage 
at Pearl Harbor, reminded the President on the 
morning of the 8th that the striking force of the fleet 
■ — the carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines — 
had largely escaped damage and that shore base 
facilities were intact. Ltr, Stark to Hoover, 5 Aug 59, 

The new mission of the Pacific Fleet was 
now almost entirely defensive. Deleted 
were the provisions for the support of 
British naval forces, operations against 
the Caroline and Marshall Islands, and 
the diversion of Japanese forces from the 
Malay Barrier. Kimmel was to limit 
himself largely to the defense of the is- 
lands and sea communications east of 
the date line. This decision was approved 
by the Joint Board the same day and 
about a week later, after further study 
by the naval planners, was communicated 
to the British. 19 

More than a change in mission was 
required to remedy the damage at Pearl 
Harbor. The first step in re-establishing 
American power in the Central Pacific 
and sharpening the badly dulled edge of 
the "strategic triangle" was to strengthen 
the Pacific Fleet. This was accomplished 
by ordering back to the Pacific those 
warships that had been sent to the 
Atlantic in the spring and summer to 
protect the convoys to England — the 
carrier Yorktown, 3 battleships, 9 de- 
stroyers, and 12 old submarines. This 
action, too, constituted a revision of the 
existing war plan, which provided for 
the transfer of units of the Pacific Fleet 
to the Mediterranean in the event of war 
so that the British could reinforce their 
Far Eastern fleet. 20 Such a step was 
obviously out of the question. 

The Pearl Harbor attack had not only 

"Rad, CNO to CINCPAC, 0139, 9 Dec 41; Ltr, Secy 
for Collab to Chief Staff Officer, British Staff Mis- 
sion, 16 Dec 41, sub: ABC— 1 Modification, both 
cited by Lt. Grace P. Hayes, USN, in Hist of JCS in 
World War II: The War Against Japan, vol. I, ch. II, 
p. 10; Mins, JB Mtg, 8 Dec 41. 

M Mins, JB Mtg, 8 Dec 41; Rad, CNO to CinC At- 
lantic, 8 Dec 41, copy in WPD Msg File, No. 116; 
ABC-i, pars. 55 and 57, Pearl Harbor Attack Hear- 
ings, pt. 15, pp. 1526-27. 



revealed the weakness of American de- 
fenses in the Pacific but had brought 
into the open, with dramatic suddenness, 
the inadequacies of command by mutual 
co-operation and the danger of divided 
responsibility. These weaknesses had 
been recognized before the war, General 
Marshall complaining in February 1941 
that "old Army and Navy feuds" in 
Hawaii were becoming confused with 
questions of national defense. 21 But all 
efforts to establish unity of command in 
those areas where the Army and Navy 
were jointly responsible for defense had 
foundered on the sharp crags of service 
jealousies and rivalries. 

The disaster at Pearl Harbor aroused 
the President to the dangers of divided 
command. Determined that there should 
be no repetition of the confusion of re- 
sponsibility that had existed in Hawaii, 
he ordered his military and naval ad- 
visers on the 12th to establish a unified 
command in Panama under the Army. 
Though some of the naval members of 
the Joint Board were opposed to the 
move, they had no choice but to accept 
it, for, as the minutes recorded, "unless 
unified control was effected by joint 
agreement between the Army and Navy, 
the establishment of a Department of 
National Defense . . . might be consid- 
ered a certainty." In Hawaii, the Navy 
was given command effective 17 Decem- 
ber. "For your confidential informa- 
tion," Marshall explained to the Army 
commander in Hawaii, this action had 
been taken because "the Secretary of 
War and the Secretary of the Navy were 
determined that there would be no 
question of future confusion as to re- 

J, Ltr, Marshall to Short, 7 Feb 41, WPD4449-1; 
Ltr, Stark to Hoover, 5 Aug 59, OCMH. 

sponsibility. . . . Both Stark and I were 
struggling to the same end. . . ." 22 

The establishment of unity of com- 
mand coincided with a complete turn- 
over in the high command in Hawaii. 
As early as the 12 th demands for an in- 
quiry into the causes of the disaster at 
Pearl Harbor were being made in Con- 
gress, but they were staved off until the 
14th when Secretary Knox returned 
from Hawaii after a quick inspection. 
His description of the situation there in 
the days preceding the attack did noth- 
ing to lessen the demand for an inquiry 
and the next day the President appointed 
a 5-man board headed by Supreme 
Court Justice Owen J. Roberts to make 
an official investigation. With the pub- 
lic explanation that it was acting to 
"avoid a situation where officials charged 
with responsibility for the future security 
of the vital base would otherwise at this 
critical hour also be involved in a search- 
ing investigation," the Navy on the 17th 
relieved Admiral Kimmel, General 
Short, and Maj. Gen. Frederick L. 
Martin, the air commander. Rear Adm. 
Chester W. Nimitz was jumped two 
grades and appointed in Kiramel's 
place. Pending his arrival in Hawaii, 
Vice Adm. William S. Pye took, over 
command of the Pacific Fleet and of all 
forces in the area under the principles 
of unified command. Short's replace- 
ment, Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, an air 

m Ltr, CofS to CG Hawaiian Dept, 20 Dec 41, 
Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 15, p. 1483; Mins, 
JB Mtgs, 13 and 17 Dec 41; Memo, Stark for Mar- 
shall, 17 Dec 41, sub: Unity of Command, WPD 
2917-38. Ltr, Emmons to Hoover, 10 Jul 59, OCMH. 
General Emmons recalled that on the morning of 8 
December he and Maj. Gen. Lesley J. McNair called 
on Marshall for instructions, and recommended that 
unity o£ command be established immediately in the 
Pacific. General Marshall told them that he intended 
to take the matter up with the Navy. 



Admiral King General Emmons Admiral Nimitz 

force officer, was in San Francisco when 
he received Marshall's telephone call to 
proceed to Hawaii at once and take com- 
mand of the Department. He arrived 
on the night of the 16th and the follow- 
ing morning relieved General Short. 
Brig. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker flew out 
the same day to take over command of 
the air forces. 23 General Marshall sur- 
vived this crisis but his naval colleague, 
Admiral Stark, was ultimately replaced 
by Admiral Ernest J. King. 

The safety of the fleet base in Hawaii 
continued to be the main preoccupation 
of the Navy and the chief subject of de- 
bate between the Navy and Army plan- 
ners during the first weeks of the war. 
The former believed that all available 
resources should be sent to Oahu imme- 
diately. The latter, harassed by calls for 
protection from civilian agencies and 
military commanders and fearful of at- 
tacks against the west coast and Panama, 

13 New York Times, December 18, 1941; Memo, 
Deputy CofS for TAG, 16 Dec 41, no sub; Tel Conf 
of CofS and Emmons, 16 Dec 41, both in OPD Exec 
Files. Ltr, Emmons to Hoover, 10 Jul 59, OCMH. 

resisted these demands, but did agree 
with their naval colleagues on the stra- 
tegic importance of Hawaii and the need 
for reinforcements. The question was 
how much of the slender resources then 
available should be sent and how much 
should be allotted to other commands 
and for civilian defense. 

The problem of Hawaii's defenses was 
thoroughly discussed at the Joint Board 
meetings on 8 and 9 December. Already 
the War Department had received Gen- 
eral Short's estimates of the equipment, 
supplies, and troops needed for his com- 
mand, and had approved most of his 
requests, including those for 60 heavy 
bombers and 100 pursuit craft, 10,000,000 
rounds of .50-caliber ammunition, and 
a large number of bombs. 24 But the Navy 
did not regard these reinforcements — 
which were scheduled to leave the west 
coast after 12 December — as adequate. 
It wanted all available antiaircraft artil- 
lery and a large force dispatched to Oahu 
immediately, even, Admiral Stark de- 

"Rad, Short to Marshall, 8 Dec 41, AG 381 (11- 
27-41 Sec 1) Far East. 



clared, "at the risk of taking a chance on 
leaving some installations in the United 
States unprotected." So serious was the 
danger, in Stark's estimation, that he 
advised Kimmel not to use Pearl Harbor 
as a base, except for submarines and 
patrol craft, until it was reinforced. 25 

The position taken by Stark and his 
naval planners was not an unreasonable 
one. Disaster had followed disaster in the 
Pacific. The naval base at Cavite in the 
Philippines had been virtually destroyed 
and Admiral Hart on the ioth had re- 
ported that Manila was no longer tenable 
as a naval base and that he was sending 
the rest of his fleet, except the subma- 
rines and patrol craft, south, a decision 
which Admiral Stark approved. 26 Hard 
on the heels of this news came word that 
the Prince of Wales and Repulse had 
been sunk. Added to the loss of Ameri- 
can strength in the Pacific and Far East, 
these fresh disasters had a profound effect 
on naval thinking and strategy. 

Oddly enough, the naval commander 
in Hawaii, Admiral Kimmel, did not 
share the pessimism of his Washington 
superiors, though he pressed for rein- 
forcements as vigorously as any and 
yielded to none in his view of the seri- 
ousness of the situation. But he also saw 
the bright side of the picture. For one 
thing, the workshops and depots at Pearl 
Harbor were still intact. And more im- 
portant, the three carriers had escaped 
the attack and were available for limited 
missions. Certainly the strategy for the 
use of the fleet would have to be changed, 
Kimmel told Secretary Knox when he 
visited Hawaii on the nth, but he added, 

2B Mins, JB Mtg, 9 Dec 41; Morison, The Rising 
Sun in the Pacific, p. 2ig. 

M Rad, CINCAF to OPNAV, 1330, 10 Dec 41; Mins, 
JB Mtg, 10 Dec 41. 

"a very powerful striking force of car- 
riers, cruisers and destroyers survives. 
These forces must be operated boldly and 
vigorously on the tactical offensive in 
order to retrieve our initial disaster." 27 

The Army planners, though they were 
unwilling to reinforce Hawaii to the ex- 
tent desired by their naval colleagues or 
by Admiral Kimmel, did not minimize 
the danger to that outpost. In an esti- 
mate of 10 December, G-2 pointed out 
that the Japanese were striking out "in 
all directions simultaneously" and that 
their next objectives might include 
major elements of the fleet, installations 
and factories on the west coast, Alaska, 
and Panama. Of these the most serious, 
G-2 thought, would be the loss of the 
Panama Canal and of major elements of 
the fleet. An Army War Plans Division 
estimate two days later listed five possible 
lines of Japanese action: continued oper- 
ations in the Philippines and Malaya; 
attacks against Hawaii, seizure of a base 
in the Aleutians; air strikes on the 
Panama Canal; and raids against ship- 
ping and installations on the west coast. 
To counter these the United States 
would only be able first, to resist Japa- 
nese attacks in the Philippines with the 
forces already there; second, reinforce 
Hawaii and defend it against attack, with 
the knowledge that "the naval situation 
in the Pacific is such that a successful de- 
fense of Hawaii cannot be absolutely 
assured"; and, finally, defend Alaska, the 
west coast, and the Panama Canal. 28 

The Navy's estimates differed from the 

"Quoted in Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pa- 
cific, p. 220. The original of Kimmel's report has 
not been found in the Navy's files. 

59 Memos, G-2 for GHQ, 10 Dec 41, sub: Brief Esti- 
mate of the Situation, "WPD 4544—38; Gerow for 
CofS, j 2 Dec 41, sub: Brief Current Strategic Esti- 
mate, WPD 4625-37. 



Army's mainly in the emphasis placed on 
Hawaii. Admiral Kimmel had admitted, 
even while urging boldness, that the 
most probable enemy action in his thea- 
ter was a raid by fast striking forces 
against Oahu, Midway, or the Aleutians. 
But Admiral Stark took a more serious 
view. The Japanese, he told Marshall 
on the 11th, had the ships and men to 
land on any of the outlying islands in the 
Hawaiian chain, blockade Oahu, or at- 
tack the west coast, Alaska, and Panama. 
"This picture," he declared, "is not over- 
drawn. The Hawaiian Islands are in ter- 
rible danger of early capture. Every 
resource of the United States in ships, 
troops, aircraft, and material should be 
considered available for use in this emer- 
gency. . . . " 29 He proposed, therefore, 
that the equivalent of three divisions, as 
many planes as possible, a large naval 
force, and a large amount of supplies — 
altogether 100,000 men and 500,000 tons 
of shipping — be dispatched immediately 
to Hawaii. And until these reinforce- 
ments arrived, he declared, the Navy 
would discontinue the use of Pearl 
Harbor as a base. 

Such grand-scale reinforcement was 
impossible, even if the shipping could 
be found, without abandoning the de- 
fense of other vital points and endanger- 
ing the safety of the Atlantic sea lanes. 
General Marshall reminded Stark of 
these obligations, while admitting the 
importance of Hawaii and agreeing to 
send additional reinforcements to the 
islands if it could be done without "jeop- 
ardizing the security of the Panama 
Canal and Continental United States." 30 

"Memo, CNO for CofS, 11 Dec 41, sub: The Dan- 
gerous Strategic Situation, OPD Exec Files. 

"Memo, CofS for CNO, 12 Dec 41, sub: Defense of 
Oahu, WPD 4544-29. 

Finally, after a week of discussion, the 
two Chiefs collaborated on a joint esti- 
mate for the President that reflected 
Stark's view of the seriousness of the 
danger, but made allowance for the 
needs of other areas and listed the meas- 
ures already taken. 31 

By this time the danger to Hawaii, 
though not ended, was waning. Reports 
of enemy landings and imminent attacks 
had all proved false. In General Short's 
opinion there was, by 1 5 December, little 
danger of a hostile landing; raids, he 
thought, were still possible. His succes- 
sor, General Emmons, added to Short's 
requests for reinforcements two square 
divisions, two antiaircraft regiments, and 
10,000 service troops. He was given only 
one of the divisions, the 27th, and told 
that reinforcements would reach him 
over an extended period of time, priority 
for emergency shipments having already 
passed to the Southwest Pacific. 32 By 
Christmas it was clear that Hawaii was 
no longer in immediate danger of inva- 
sion, a view endorsed by the British plan- 
ners who believed that the main Japa- 
nese effort was in Southeast Asia, and 
that, while raids and hit-and-run attacks 
in the eastern Pacific were still possible, 
a large amphibious operation in that 
area was most unlikely. 33 

31 Memo, CofS and CNO for President, 20 Dec 41 
(?), sub: Dangerous Strategic Situation, WPD 4449-6. 

3J Rad, Short to Marshall, 15 Dec 41, AG 381 (11- 
27-41 Sec 1) Far East; memos, WPD for CofS, 23 Dec 
41, sub: Hawaiian Defenses, and WPD for TAG, 25 
Dec 41, sub: Reinf for Hawaii, both in WPD 3444- 
19; Ltr, Emmons to Hoover, 10 Jul 59, OCMH. 

M ABC-4, 24 Dec 41, ann. 2 ARCADIA Proceedings. 
For reinforcements to Hawaii during this period, see 
Leigh ton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 
ch. VI, and ABC 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East, WPD 
3444-14 and 15, 4622-39, and 3674-74. 



The Philippines 

The shift in focus of interest from Ha- 
waii to the western Pacific evidenced by 
the higher priority given Australia and 
the Philippines on 24 December was the 
culmination of a dispute that had begun 
on the first day of war. The issue had 
been raised by the necessity for deciding 
the fate of a convoy of seven ships, es- 
corted by the cruiser Pensacola and 
carrying men and munitions to Manila 
via the South Pacific Toute. The Navy 
had, on the 8th, ordered the Pensacola 
convoy to put in at Suva in the Fijis 
to await further orders, and on the gth, 
at a meeting of the Joint Board, pro- 
posed that the ships be brought back to 
Hawaii to reinforce that badly battered 
garrison. The Army members of the 
board, notably General Gerow, support- 
ed this view and suggested further that 
a portion of the convoy might be re- 
turned to the United States. Following 
discussion the board agreed that the 
convoy should be ordered back to 
Hawaii. General Marshall concurred 
without comment. 34 

This decision of the Joint Board rep- 
resented virtually the abandonment of 
the Philippines. There was ample prec- 
edent for such a policy in the prewar 
studies of the planners, approved by the 
Joint Board, demonstrating that the 
Philippines could not be held in the face 
of a determined Japanese attack. But 
between July and December 1941 there 
had been a reversal of that view and the 
inauguration of a large-scale program of 

M Mins, JB Mtg, 8 and 9 Dec 41. In the convoy was 
a field artillery brigade, eighteen P-40S, fifty-two 
A-24's, a large quantity of ammunition and miscel- 
laneous equipment, many vehicles and about 5,000 
troops. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 776, is 
Dec 41, WPD 46S8. 

reinforcements designed to make the 
islands strong enough to resist invasion. 
The program was still incomplete when 
war came and it was evident at once that 
the defense of the islands had become, 
as Secretary Stimson wrote, "once more 
the desperate and losing struggle which 
had been forecast in the planning of 
earlier years." 35 

Though the action of the Joint Board 
in ordering the Pensacola convoy back 
to Hawaii may have been necessary for 
military reasons, it overlooked the moral, 
phychological, and political considera- 
tions which affected the attitude of 
America toward the Philippines and its 
position in the Far East. Though these 
considerations were not, perhaps, strictly 
within the province of the Army and 
Navy planners, their existence and po- 
tential importance had been recognized 
in some of the early studies. As late as 
December 1940 the two service Secre- 
taries and the President had approved a 
Joint Board study that made the point 
that in the event of war with Germany 
and Japan, the decision to make the 
main effort in the Atlantic initially 
might well be endangered "should Japa- 
nese success seem imminent." Public 
opinion, the board had suggested then, 
might lead to heavy pressure "to support 
the forces engaged in the Far East instead 
of leaving them to their fate" and result 
in stronger effort in that area than pro- 
vided for in the plans. 36 

Though no war plans that took into 
full account the moral and political fac- 
tors of the situation in the Far East were 
ever made, it was these factors that ulti- 
mately decided the strategy of the United 

"Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, p. 395. 
"Memo, CNO for CofS, 15 Dec 41, IncI: Extract 
from JB 335, ser. 670, 21 Dec 40, WPD 4561-10. 



Secretary Stimson confers with General 
Marshall, January 1942. 

States during the opening months of the 
war. The President, Secretary Stimson, 
and General Marshall all felt strongly 
with the American people that the 
United States had an obligation to do 
all in its power to aid the Philippine 
people and support General MacArthur 
whatever the risks. Moreover, General 
Marshall had already assured MacArthur 
that he could expect "every possible 
assistance," and he was reluctant to tell 
him now, after the Joint Board's deci- 
sion, that the Pensacola convoy had been 
turned back. He wanted "to send some 
news," he told Stimson on the morning 
of the 10th, "which would buck General 
MacArthur up." 8T 

Secretary Stimson was thoroughly in 
sympathy with the Chief of Staff's views. 
A former governor-general of the Philip- 
pines and one of the foremost advocates 

"Mins, CofS Conf, 10 Dec 41, WDCSA CofS 
Conf, II. 

of a strong policy in the Far East, Mr. 
Stimson needed no urging to do all in 
his power for the Filipinos and General 
MacArthur, and immediately went to 
the White House with the problem. 
There, where there was a sensitive ap- 
preciation for the moral and political 
consequences of the Joint Board deci- 
sion, he found ready support and a 
promise of aid. This assistance took the 
form of a request by the President that 
the Joint Board reconsider its decision 
on the fate of the Pensacola convoy. 
Thus, when the Board met that after- 
noon, 10 December, it had little choice 
but to reverse itself, though the naval 
members still felt that there was little 
hope of getting the supplies to Mac- 
Arthur. The Army members followed 
the lead of their chief and argued that 
the vessels should proceed to Brisbane, 
after which some means would be sought 
to convoy them northward. Two days 
later, the senior Army officer in the con- 
voy, Brig. Gen. Julian F. Barnes, was 
placed under MacArthur 's command 
and told that his principal task was to 
get the men, planes, and munitions in 
the holds of the seven ships to the Phi- 
lippines by any means available and as 
quickly as possible. 38 

The news that reinforcements were on 
the way was received with enthusiasm in 
Manila. But Admiral Hart's response to 
MacArthur's request for help in bring- 
ing the convoy in dampened this enthu- 
siasm. Like Admirals Stark and Turner, 
and like many Army planners as well, 
Hart thought the cause of the Philip 

"Mins, JB Mtg, 10 Dec 41; Rad, OPNAV to CTF 
15, 10 Dec 41, WPD Msg File; Memo, CofS for Comdr 
D, H. Harries, Australian Naval Attache, 12 Dec 41, 
sub: Msg for Transmission; Rad, Marshall to Mac- 
Arthur, No. 776, iz Dec 41, both in WPD 4628. 



pines was a hopeless one. The Japanese, 
he believed, would have established a 
complete blockade of the Philippines 
before the convoy could arrive, and he 
could not, he told MacArthur, take the 
responsibility for protecting the convoy 
if it tried to make the journey between 
Australia and the Philippines. 39 

MacArthur took strong exception to 
Hart's view that the convoys could not 
be brought in safely, but the admiral 
found firm support in Washington. The 
Chief of Naval Operations not only 
agreed with Hart's estimate but urged 
him to leave the Philippines as soon as 
possible "to support the defense of the 
Netherlands East Indies and Australia." 
Foreseeing the loss of Singapore and 
Luzon and unwilling to risk the loss of 
its warships in a hopeless cause, the 
Navy wished to concentrate Allied re- 
sources on the defense of the Malay 
Barrier and northwest Australia. The 
artillery and ammunition earmarked for 
MacArthur, it proposed, should be 
retained in Australia and used for the 
defense of Darwin. The Army planners 
did not differ with the naval estimate 
of the probable loss of the Philippines 
or of the importance of the Malay Bar- 
rier, but they did oppose any effort to 
divert aid from MacArthur. And so did 
naval officers in Australia, who asserted 
their belief that the Pensacola convoy 
could still reach the Philippines, 
provided that there was "adequate 
cooperation" between the Army and 
Navy. 40 

''Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, 13 and 14 Dec 41, 
OPD Exec Files; CNO to CINCAF, 1958, 10 Dec 41, 
WPD 4622-30. 

"Rad, Milid Melbourne to WD, No. 40, 18 Dec 41, 
WPD 4622-38; CNO to CINCAF, 14 Dec 41, copy in 
AG 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East; MacArthur to 
Marshall, 14 Dec 41, OPD Exec Files. 

MacArthur not only refused to accept 
the view that the Philippines were 
doomed, but warned that "if the sus- 
picion of such action ever materializes 
the entire structure will collapse over 
my head." What he wanted was a review 
of the accepted strategy in the Pacific 
and Far East "lest a fatal mistake be 
made." To him "the locus of victory or 
defeat" lay in the Philippines. If they 
and the Indies fell, so would Singapore 
and the Asiatic continent. The defense 
of the islands, therefore, justified, in his 
view, the allocation of the combined 
resources of the Allies to the Pacific. 
"If the Western Pacific is to be saved," 
he told the Chief of Staff in language 
similar to that used by Admiral Stark 
in describing the plight of Hawaii, "it 
will have to be saved here and now." 41 
Constantly he urged on the Chief of Staff 
a bold course of action against an over- 
extended enemy. On the 10th, asserting 
that there existed a "golden opportunity 
. . . for a master stroke," he suggested 
a strong carrier-based air attack against 
the Japanese home islands which, he 
declared, would "at once relieve pres- 
sure from objectives of Japanese drive 
to southward" for Japan itself was 
weakly defended. "Definite information 
available here," he added significantly, 
"shows that entry of Russia is enemy's 
greatest fear." A few days later he ad- 
vanced the idea that aircraft carriers be 
used to bring in 300 pursuit planes, 
a proposal the Navy vigorously and 
successfully opposed. 42 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, 13 Dec 41, OPD 
Exec Files. 

"Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 198, 10 Dec 41, 
WPD 4544-26; 14 Dec 41, OPD Exec Files; memo, 
CNO for CofS, 23 Dec 41, sub: Transportation of 
Short Range Aircraft, AG 381 (i 1-27-41 Gen) Far 



Additional weight was given Mac- 
Arthur's pleas by the arguments of 
Francis B. Sayre, High Commissioner 
for the Philippines. Stressing the moral 
and political aspects o£ the Philippine 
campaign and the importance of that 
campaign to America's position in the 
Far East, he urged the President to send 
MacArthur the reinforcements and sup- 
plies he had requested. Rumors that 
the United States was leaving the Fili- 
pinos to their fate were circulating in 
Manila, Sayre told Mr. Roosevelt, and 
if reinforcements did not arrive soon the 
Filipinos might abandon all resistance 
and submit passively to the Japanese. 43 

MacArthur 's and Sayre's requests were 
received sympathetically in Washington, 
where they brought immediate results. 
The President had already ordered the 
Army and Navy to make every effort 
to aid the Philippine garrison, but the 
latter was noticeably lacking in enthu- 
siasm for the program. This reluctance 
Roosevelt sought to overcome by calling 
in Acting Secretary of the Navy, James 
V. Forrestal, and telling him that "he 
was bound to help the Philippines and 
the Navy has got to help in it." 44 To 
Sayre the President sent reassurances 
that he was keeping directly in touch 
with the situation in the Far East. At 
the same time Marshall sent a separate 
message to MacArthur explaining that 
the problem of getting supplies to him 
had been "complicated by Naval losses," 
but that reinforcements were being 
"rushed" to the Philippines. "The stra- 
tegic importance of the Philippines is 
fully recognized," the Chief of Staff told 

"Rad, Sayre to President, No. 628, 15 Dec 41, WPD 

"Stimson and Bundy, On Active Service, p. 396. 

MacArthur, "and there has been and 
will be no repeat no wavering in the 
determination to support you." 45 

This pledge was no empty promise. 
Marshall was doing everything possible 
to give MacArthur what he needed and 
had only the day before assigned the 
newly arrived deputy chief of the War 
Plans Division, Brig. Gen. Dwight D. 
Eisenhower, the task of co-ordinating 
and directing this program of reinforce- 
ment. Like Stimson and Marshall, 
Eisenhower believed that it was neces- 
sary to make every effort to reinforce 
the Philippines, even if the hope of suc- 
cess was slim. The program would have 
to be based on Australia, he believed, 
and work should begin at once to con- 
struct military bases there from which 
to send supplies and men northward. 
"We must take great risks," he wrote, 
"and spend any amount of money 
required." 46 

Eisenhower's plan, which Marshall 
quickly approved, was to use the forces 
in the Pensacola convoy, due in Bris- 
bane on the 2 2d, as the nucleus of the 
new command. Designated U.S. Army 
Forces in Australia (USAFIA), this com- 
mand would be essentially an air and 
supply base. General Barnes, when he 
arrived in Brisbane, was to be relieved 
as commander of the forces in the con- 
voy by an air officer from the Philippines. 
Eventually, Maj. Gen. George H. Brett, 
then in Chungking, would take over 
command of USAFIA, with Col. Stephen 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 787, 15 Dec 
41; President to Sayre, 15 Dec 41, both in WPD 

"General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in 
Europe (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1948), 
p. ,8. 



J. Chamberlin, later to become Mac- 
Arthur's G-3, as chief of staff. 47 The pri- 
mary task, of the Australian command 
would be the support of the Philippines 
and for this purpose its commander 
would take his instructions from Gen- 
eral MacArthur. In addition, the 
USAFIA commander was to arrange for 
the flight of the planes in the Pensacola 
convoy northward, loaded with all the 
ammunition they could carry, and to 
co-operate with the Navy in securing 
the sea lanes. Any course that would 
achieve these results, the Chief of Staff 
directed, was authorized. 48 

General MacArthur was kept fully in- 
formed of these developments and on the 
18 th Marshall undertook to summarize 
for him the measures being taken to send 
him help. Two transports, he told him, 
were to be loaded with aircraft and am- 
munition and dispatched shortly from 
San Francisco. Two additional ship- 
ments were scheduled to reach Brisbane 
early in January and would give that 
base 230 aircraft. Via the South Atlan- 
tic-Africa route, two Pan American clip- 
pers loaded with 50-caliber ammunition 
were heading for Australia. Fifteen 
heavy bombers were being diverted from 
their original destinations and ordered 
to the Southwest Pacific on a flight sched- 
ule which would see the arrival of three 
planes a day between Christmas and the 
New Year. Finally, Marshall said, the 
War Department was making available 
to the USAFIA commander the sum of 
$10,000,000 to finance blockade-runners 

"Memo, WPD for CofS, 17 Dec 41, sub: Plan for 
Australian Base, WPD 4628-1. 

*Ltr, Maj Gen Richard C. Moore to Brett, 19 Dec 
41, OCS 18136-161; Rad, Marshall to Mil Attache 
Melbourne for Brett, No, 31, 17 Dec 41, WPD 4628-1. 

between Australia and the Philippines. 49 
These measures added up to an impres- 
sive program of reinforcement and rep- 
resented considerable staff work in 
Washington, but to MacArthur in the 
Philippines it was only a paper program. 
Until the aircraft and supplies reached 
him, he and his men could find little 
consolation in such summaries. 

On 22 December, the same day that 
the bulk of the Japanese i4th Army 
landed at Lingayen Gulf, the Pensacola 
convoy with its valuable cargo of air- 
craft, artillery, and ammunition arrived 
in Brisbane. Already General Mac- 
Arthur had instructed the USAFIA com- 
mander to send the convoy (less the 
aircraft, which were to be unloaded, 
assembled, and flown north) to the Phil- 
ippines, and the Joint Board had pro- 
vided for co-ordination between the 
Army and Navy forces in the area. This 
co-ordination it hoped to achieve by 
directing General Brett and Rear Adm. 
William A. Glassford, Hart's representa- 
tive, to meet "for the purpose of agree- 
ing upon common action" to transport 
the supplies MacArthur needed, and, in 
co-operation with the Australians, estab- 
lish a base at Darwin and defend north- 
west Australia. 50 Marshall had done all 
he could to assure the transshipment of 
the convoy to the Philippines, and, on 
the day the convoy reached its destina- 
tion, once again reminded the Army 
commanders in Australia to spare nei- 
ther effort nor expense to accomplish 
their task. At the same time, the Navy 
instructed its representatives in Austra- 

*Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 824, 18 Dec 41, 
WPD 4622-28. 

M Rad, Marshall to Brett, 21 Dec 41, WPD 4622-38; 
JB 325, ser. 783. 



lia to assist in every way and Admiral 
Stark asked Hart, who was to leave 
Manila shortly, to impress on the Aus- 
tralians the importance of keeping open 
the Torres Strait route for supplies to 
Darwin and the Philippines. 51 

Despite these elaborate preparations 
and the efforts of the small group of 
officers in Australia, none of the planes, 
men, or munitions of the Pensacola con- 
voy ever reached the Philippines. When 
the planes were assembled it was discov- 
ered that they lacked vital parts needed 
in combat. Before the missing parts 
could be found or shipped from the 
United States, the fields on which the 
planes would base had fallen to the 
enemy. The field artillery brigade, to- 
gether with other reinforcements and 
supplies from the convoy, left Brisbane 
on the 28th on two fast ships. By the 
time the ships got to Darwin the Japa- 
nese had already established themselves 
in Borneo athwart the line of commu- 
nication northward and the convoy was 
halted. "It now appears," General Mar- 
shall wrote the Far East commander, 
"that the plans for reaching you quickly 
with pursuit plane support are jeopar- 
dized. Your day to day situation and 

"Rads, Marshall to Mil Attach^, Melbourne, No. 
36, Si Dec 41, WPD 4630-2; OPNAV to CINCAF, 
agog, aa Dec 41, Office of Naval Records. 

that of Borneo will determine what can 
be done at any moment. . . ." 52 

Though there was no relaxation in 
the determination to reinforce the Phil- 
ippines, it was evident by the last week 
in December that these efforts had but 
slight chance of success and that the men 
and supplies in and en route to Austra- 
lia might be available for another cause. 
The President wanted them to be used 
"in whatever manner might best serve 
the joint cause in the Far East"; the 
British wanted them for Singapore, and 
the Navy pushed for the establishment 
of a strong base at Darwin. The Army 
planners, who were reluctantly coming 
to share the pessimism of their naval col- 
leagues about the fate of the Philippines, 
limited their plans to the development 
of a strong air base in Australia from 
which to project air operations forward 
for the defense of Singapore and the 
Malay Barrier. 53 It was to this problem 
that the American planners in Washing- 
ton and their British allies turned their 
attention during the weeks that followed. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 879, 24 Dec. 41, AG 
381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East; Morton, The Fall 0} 
the Philippines \ p. 154T] 

"Notes on White House Mtg, 24 Dec 41, OPD Exec 
Files; Ltr, Marshall to Lt Gen H. C. B. Wemyss, Brit- 
ish Mission, 24 Dec 41, AG 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far 
East; Rad, Marshall to Mil Att Melbourne, No. 41, 
25 Dec 41, WPD 4628-3. 


The Malay Barrier 

Defensive warfare, therefore, does not consist of waiting idly for things 
to happen. 

Clausewitz, Principles of War 

Though the program to reinforce the 
Philippines and establish an American 
base in Australia developed almost acci- 
dentally from the improvisations of the 
first day of the war, it clearly foreshad- 
owed the direction of American strategy 
in the Pacific. But no clear statement 
of this strategy, let alone specific plans 
to put it into effect, existed when the 
program was adopted. Before either 
could be developed it would be neces- 
sary to correlate American and Allied 
strategy in the Pacific and to develop 
a program of action against the common 

Allied Strategy 

When General MacArthur told Mar- 
shall on 10 December that what Japan 
feared most was Soviet entry into the 
war, he emphasized a fact well under- 
stood in Washington. That did not 
mean, however, that military authorities 
were unanimously in favor of Soviet par- 
ticipation. Admiral Stark, for example, 
seriously questioned the advisability of 
such a move because of the effect it 
would have on the war in Europe. 
General Marshall agreed fully that any 
move that would weaken Soviet resist- 

ance on the eastern front would be dis- 
astrous to the Allied cause. But it was 
undeniable, he pointed out, that a So- 
viet attack against Japan would improve 
America's position in the Pacific. The 
fact that Japan had not attacked the 
Maritime Provinces seemed to him sig- 
nificant. "If immediate fighting in the 
Manchukuo front is disadvantageous to 
Japan," Marshall declared, "it is, for 
that reason, immediately advantageous 
to us." 1 

But participation by the Soviet Union 
in the war against Japan was not the 
only way that nation could aid the Allied 
cause in the Far East. In the Maritime 
Provinces were bases that lay within 
bombing distance of the industrial heart 
of Japan. In the hands of American 
forces, these bases would constitute a 
formidable threat to the Japanese enemy. 

The possibility that the Soviet Union 
would allow the United States to base 
its forces in the Maritime Provinces was 
a specter that haunted the Japanese and 
was always a factor in their planning. 
The Americans had considered this pos- 
sibility in their prewar plans and esti- 

'Memos, Gerow for Marshall, 17 Dec 41, sub: 
Memo for President (not used); Stark for President, 
3 Dec 41, no sub, both in WPD 4557. 



mates, and had sought to make the 
necessary arrangements with the Soviet 
Union. These efforts had been unsuccess- 
ful, but as late as November 1941, Gen- 
eral Marshall was still optimistic and 
confided to a group of newsmen that 
"arrangements are being made to pro- 
vide landing fields for flying fortresses 
in Vladivostok" and that the Philippine- 
based B-17's would shuttle between 
Clark Field and Vladivostok in the event 
of war, dropping their bombs en route 
on the "paper cities of Japan." 2 

The Pearl Harbor attack gave impetus 
to the efforts to complete arrangements 
with the Soviet Union for American use 
of the Maritime Provinces. On the day 
after the attack Secretary Hull sounded 
out Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet Am- 
bassador, on this question and Marshall 
raised it in military conference. But 
Litvinov, on instructions from his gov- 
ernment, quickly put an end to such 
hopes. To the President, during a visit 
to the White House, and to Mr. Hull 
later, he made it perfectly clear that the 
USSR would have to maintain a neu- 
tral position in the Far East. His coun- 
try, Litvinov explained, was too heavily 
committed in the war against Germany 
and "could not risk an attack by 
Japan." 3 

Stalin's reluctance to engage in dis- 
cussions dealing with the Far East was 
in marked contrast to Chiang Kai-shek's 
eagerness for concerted action. China 
had not been included in the prewar 
discussions of strategy and no plans had 
been made for the use of Chinese bases 

•Notes on Mtg of newspaper correspondents with 
Gen Marshall, 15 Nov 41. The notes were made by 
the correspondents, one of whom supplied the author 
with his copy. 

•Hull, Memoirs, II, mi; Mins, CofS Mtg, 10 Dec 
41, WDCSA Conf II. 

or troops in the event of war with Japan. 
The first suggestion that China become 
an active partner in such a war came 
from Chiang who, when he heard of 
the Pearl Harbor attack, summoned the 
American and Soviet ambassadors and 
told them of his hopes for a military 
alliance of all the anti-Axis nations un- 
der American leadership. This thought 
the Ambassadors passed on to their gov- 
ernments, but it was not until the nth 
that the Generalissimo formally proposed 
such an alliance, as well as the prepa- 
ration of comprehensive plans for con- 
certed action against Japan and the 
formation of a military mission headed 
by an American, with headquarters at 
Chungking. 4 

In Washington, the desirability of 
international military collaboration was 
fully recognized and plans for a meeting 
were already being made. Chiang's sug- 
gestions, therefore, though they were not 
entirely in accord with American views, 
were readily accepted by Roosevelt, but 
with the proviso that several conferences, 
not one, be held to co-ordinate the efforts 
of the Allies. All together there would 
be three: one in Chungking, one in Sin- 
gapore, and one in Moscow, and invi- 
tations went out immediately. Chiang 
quickly agreed, as did the British, who 
were scheduled to meet separately with 
the Americans in Washington later in 
the month. But Stalin asked that his 
country not be pressed into any action 
against Japan, and Roosevelt's invitation 

'Telg. U.S. Ambassador, Chungking, 8 Dec 41, 
WPD 4389—42; Memo, Laughlin Currie for Pres, 11 
Dec 41, WPD 4389-46; Rad, Magruder to Secy War, 
No. 95, 11 Dec 41, WPD Msg File. For full story of 
this incident, see Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sun- 
derland, Stilwell's Mission to China, UNITED 
ton, 1953), ch. II. 



for a meeting in Moscow trailed off in 
a series of inconclusive messages. 5 

Preparations Eor the other two meet- 
ings, to be held concurrently and to 
consider ways to halt the Japanese, were 
quickly completed. Representing the 
United States at Chungking would be 
Generals Brett, then in India, and 
Magruder, head of the mission to China. 
Lt. Col. Francis G. Brink, military ob- 
server in Singapore and an old hand in 
the Far East, would attend the meeting 
there. The results of these conferences, 
Roosevelt stipulated, were to be for- 
warded to Washington by 20 December 
so that they could be used in the forth- 
coming meeting with Churchill and the 
British Chiefs of Staff, scheduled for 22 

When the Chungking Conference con- 
vened on 17 December neither Lt. Gen. 
Sir Archibald Wavell, the British dele- 
gate, nor Brett was present. Nevertheless 
the Generalissimo took the opportunity 
to present his plans for the formation of 
an Allied general staff at Chungking, 
and for the prosecution of the war 
against Japan. On the 2 2d, Brett, who 
had just received orders to go to Aus- 
tralia and take command of U.S. Army 
forces there, arrived with Wavell and 
the conversations with the Chinese be- 
gan in earnest. Brett's instructions from 
Washington were to join with the others 
in seeking ways to take advantage of 
Japan's "present over-extension" — Mac- 
Arthur's thesis — and to reassure the Chi- 
nese that the United States was not 
abandoning the Philippines or its part- 

"Rads, Roosevelt to Chiang, is and 14 Dec 41; to 
Stalin, 13 Dec 41; Stimson to Magruder, 13 Dec 41; 
Stalin to Chiang, 12 Dec 41, OPD Exec Files; Roma- 
nus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Mission to China, pp. 

ners in Asia. After considerable discus- 
sion, a plan that placed control in 
Washington and called for only limited 
operations in Asia was evolved by the 
delegates and sent to Washington. The 
Generalissimo thought it unsatisfactory 
and sent his own. Neither contained any 
concrete suggestions on command or lo- 
gistics, two problems that would plague 
the Allies in China for the next three 
years. The conference ended on the 23d, 
having produced, one of the planners 
wrote, "very little in the way of concrete 
results." 6 

The Singapore Conference (18-20 
December) , though it produced no plan 
to halt the Japanese drive, was more 
fruitful, for from it came the first con- 
crete proposal for an Allied command 
in the Southwest Pacific. Colonel Brink's 
instructions were to present MacArthur's 
views on Far East strategy, which Gen- 
eral Marshall summarized for him as 

American, Australian, and Dutch air and 
naval forces should cooperate to keep open 
line of communications from Australia to 
Philippines. Successful defense of Philip 
pines considered essential to maintenance 
of Allied defensive structure in the Western 
Pacific. Plans for immediate Philippine 
reinforcement definitely dependent for 
success upon establishment of air traffic 
between Philippines and bases south. Every 
effort should be made to supplement air 
supply by reestablishment of limited sea 
communications between Australia and 

These views, Marshall added "are gener- 
ally concurred in by the President." At 
the same time he informed MacArthur 

' Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Mission to 
China, p. 57; Rads, Marshall to Brett, No. 71, 15 Dec 
41, and Brett to Marshall, 27 Dec 41, WPD 4389-54 
and 58, and other related papers in this file. 



of the forthcoming meetings and of his 
instructions to the American delegates, 
adding the suggestion that he correspond 
directly with them "if practicable from 
the viewpoint of secrecy." 7 

With these instructions and with the 
additional statement from MacArthur 
and Hart, couched in MacArthurian 
language, that "the Far East area is now 
the dominant locus of the war," Colonel 
Brink presented to the Singapore con- 
ferees the American view of the impor- 
tance of the Philippines and the necessity 
for keeping open the lines of communi- 
cation. But the British view of the 
importance of Singapore predominated. 
The report of the conferees, therefore, 
while it called for large reinforcements 
to the Southwest Pacific and adopted all 
of MacArthur 's suggestions for the pro- 
tection of the air and sea lanes between 
Malaya and the Philippines, gave second 
place to the defense of the Philippines. 
Japanese conquest of Singapore, the con- 
ferees thought, would be a disaster of 
the first order. Not only would it make 
certain the loss of the Netherlands 
Indies with is vast resources in oil and 
rubber, but it would also place the 
enemy in position to isolate Australia 
and New Zealand and to separate the 
British and American fleets in the Far 
East. The importance of the Philippines 
was limited, in the report of the Singa- 
pore Conference, to its use "as an 
advanced and flanking base for offen- 
sive action against Japanese lines of 
communication." 8 

T Rads, Marshall to Brink, No. 5g, 15 Dec 41; Mar- 
shall to MacArthur, same date, both in WPD 4544- 

8 Rad, Brink to Marshall, 21 Dec 41, OCS 18136- 
179; Ltr, Brink to Marshall, 25 Dec 41, sub: Singa- 
pore Conf, WPD 4544-31; Rad, Duff Cooper, British 

The most important result of the 
Singapore meeting was the proposal 
made by Brink for a unified command. 
The conference, he told the Chief of 
Staff, "dearly indicated the need for one 
supreme head over a combined allied 
staff" to co-ordinate the efforts of the 
American, British, Australian, and 
Dutch forces in the area and to make 
plans for the future. The "unofficial 
opinions" of the conferees, he added, 
indicated that the appointment of an 
American familiar with the Pacific area 
to this post "would not only be accept- 
able but desirable." If such an appoint- 
ment were made and a headquarters 
established, Brink suggested that it be 
located in Java. But he did not fail to 
point out that the majority of the dele- 
gates believed the major base of Allied 
operations in the Southwest Pacific 
should be in Australia, with an advance 
base in the Indies. 9 

Brink's suggestion was quickly picked 
up in Washington. In the Army War 
Plans Division, where it went first for 
comment, the idea of a unified com- 
mand in the Far East was described as 
"an absolute essential for the successful 
prosecution of the war effort in this 
theater," and a matter that ought to be 
discussed with the British. Action in 
the division ended with the note, "This 
matter is being considered by the Chief 
of Staff. It has been discussed at the 
White House." 10 

Chairman of the Conf, no addressee, 20 Dec 41, 
WPD 4402—137. 

°Rad, Brink to Marshall, 21 Dec 41, OCS 18136- 
i7g; comments by Brink on Singapore Conf, attached 
to Rpt of Conf, WPD 4544-31. 

10 Memo, Maj Elmer J. Rogers, Jr„ for ACofS WPD, 
22 Dec 41, sub: Rpt of Singapore Conf, WPD 



By the time the reports of the Singa- 
pore and Chungking Conferences 
reached the War Department, Churchill 
and his Chiefs of Staff had arrived in 
Washington for the first of the many 
wartime conferences which marked the 
most successful military alliance in the 
history of warfare. This meeting, which 
lasted from 22 December 1941 to 14 
January 1942 and is known by the code 
name Arcadia, was in many respects the 
most important of the conferences held 
during the war. It established an organ- 
ization for the conduct of coalition war- 
fare that survived all the stresses and 
strains of conflicting national interests; 
reaffirmed the basic decision to make the 
major effort in Europe at a time when 
the American people had not yet recov- 
ered from the shock of Pearl Harbor 
and when disaster threatened in the 
Pacific and Asia; established the first 
Allied command of the war; and laid 
down a broad program for the future 
as well as a plan for immediate action. 11 

The divergence between British and 
American views, which had been plainly 
evident at the ABC meetings early in 
1941, was again apparent at the Arcadia 
conference. The Americans believed 
that their national interests would best 
be served and the security of the United 
States best assured by the early defeat 
of Germany and Japan. This objective 
they put ahead of all others and made 
the measuring rod for every problem 

"The minutes of the Arcadia conference are 
bound separately and, with the records of the confer- 
ence, are filed in ABC 337, Arcadia. For accounts of 
the work of the conference, see Matloff and Snell, 
Strategic Planning, 1941—42, ch. V: Hayes, The War 
Against Japan, ch. I, pp. 45—72; Winston S. Churchill, 
The Grand Alliance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 
Company, 1950), chs. 15-17; Sherwood, Roosevelt 
and Hopkins, ch. XX. 

put before them. The British, too, 
sought the early defeat of the enemy, 
but they differed with the Americans 
on how to do it. Further, their national 
interests encompassed the security and 
future of a far-flung empire with its 
long lines of communication. Their 
task was more complex than that of the 
Americans and their path to victory 
more circuitous. For them, the Middle 
East, Singapore, Malaya, Australia, India 
— all held an importance the Americans 
could not grant on purely military 
grounds. The British pressed hard for 
the allocation of Allied resources to the 
.defense of these positions, not only at 
Arcadia but at the conferences that fol- 
lowed, while the Americans pushed sin- 
gle-mindedly for those operations that 
would bring about the defeat of the 
enemy. But determination to agree and 
good will on both sides overcame all 

About one thing, the major objective 
of Allied strategy, there was no disagree- 
ment. The principals subscribed to a 
basic statement of war aims that served 
as the strategic objective for the year 
1942 and the basis for the division of 
the resources of the two nations. "Much 
has happened since February last," the 
conferees noted, "but notwithstanding 
the entry of Japan into the War, our 
view remains that Germany is still the 
prime enemy- and her defeat is the key 
to victory. Once Germany is defeated the 
collapse of Italy and the defeat of Japan 
must follow." 12 It was agreed therefore, 
as "a cardinal principle" of American 
and British strategy, "that only the 
minimum of force necessary for the safe- 
guarding of vital interests in other thea- 

u ABC-4/CSi, 31 Dec 41. The original British ver- 
sion of the final phrase reads "must speedily follow." 



ters should be diverted from operations 
against Germany." 

In terms of the existing situation, this 
"cardinal principle" meant that the pro- 
duction of armaments would have to be 
stepped up; that essential positions would 
have to be defended; that the vital lines 
of communication would have to be 
held; and that, by a combination of 
bombing, blockade, and propaganda, 
German resistance would have to be 
reduced so that the Allies could land 
on the Continent in 1943. But the prin- 
ciple of minimum force in the Pacific 
was one that could be interpreted vari- 
ously and usually was, depending on the 
situation. There were always those who 
could justify additional forces for the 
Pacific on the ground that they were 
required to safeguard vital interests 
there. This was the Navy's position, 
argued forcefully and consistently by 
Admiral King. 

In the Pacific and Far East, the Ameri- 
cans and the British Chiefs of Staff 
agreed, it would be necessary to main- 
tain the security of Australia, New Zea- 
land, and India; to support China; and 
to gain "points of vantage" from which 
an offensive against Japan could "even- 
tually be developed." These were long- 
range objectives; the "immediate object" 
was to hold Hawaii, Alaska, Singapore, 
the Malay Barrier, the Philippines, 
Rangoon, and the route to China. 

As a general statement of strategy, the 
objectives outlined by the U.S. and Brit- 
ish Chiefs of Staff had little relevance 
to the immediate emergency in the Far 
East where the Japanese were advancing 
rapidly on every front. What was needed 
was agreement on the apportionment of 
the resources of both nations to that 
area, and, specifically, the amount to be 

assigned each of the vital positions still 
in Allied hands but defended by a vari- 
ety of national forces and independent 
commanders. Both sides were appar- 
ently reluctant to enter into detailed 
discussions of this subject, but they 
agreed that the planners should study 
the question of the disposition of the 
forces in and en route to the Southwest 
Pacific. This study, the Chiefs stipu- 
lated, should be based on three alterna- 
tive assumptions; first, that the Allies 
would hold both the Philippines and 
Singapore; second, that they would hold 
Singapore and the Netherlands Indies 
but lose the Philippines; and third, that 
they would lose Singapore and the 

The planners went to work on the 
problem immediately and quickly pro- 
duced a report the Chiefs approved on 
the last day of the year. Recognizing 
that the forces then in the area could 
not hold the positions prescribed and 
that immediate reinforcements would 
have to be provided, the planners framed 
the following statement of Allied aims: 

1 . Hold the Malay Barrier, that is the 
Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and the 
islands stretching eastward to northwest 
Australia, "as the basic defensive posi- 
tion"; and Burma and Australia "as 
essential supporting positions." 

2. Re-establish communications with 
the Philippines and support the garri- 
son there, while maintaining communi- 
cations to Burma and Australia and 
within the Far East area. 

Appended to the report were lists of 
the forces already in the theater and 
scheduled to arrive by 1 February. These 
the planners recommended be deployed 
"as now arranged," if the Philippines 
and Singapore held. If they did not, the 



reinforcements should be used to defend 
the Malay Barrier, Burma, and Australia, 
with American troops being used on the 
east side of the barrier (Australia) , Brit- 
ish and Commonwealth forces on the 
west (Burma and India) . Should the 
Philippines alone fall to the Japanese — 
an admission the Americans were not 
yet willing to make to the British who 
firmly believed that Singapore would 
hold — then U.S. reinforcements would 
be employed along the barrier and the 
lines of communication to the east. 13 

By the time this study was approved, 
the Chiefs of Staff had already decided 
to set up a unified American command 
in the Far East. The dangers and dis- 
advantages of command by co-operation 
had been made abundantly clear by the 
disaster at Pearl Harbor, and Marshall 
felt very strongly that unity of command 
was perhaps even more important than 
the allocation of resources or the assign- 
ment of troops. On the 25th, after he 
had Brink's report on the Singapore 
Conference, he raised the problem with 
his American and British colleagues. 
"The matters being settled here," he 
told them, "are mere details which will 
continuously reoccur unless settled in a 
broader way. ... I am convinced that 
there must be one man in command of 
the entire theater. ... If we make a 
plan for unified command now, it will 
solve nine-tenths of our troubles." With- 
out minimizing the difficulties of estab- 
lishing such a command over the forces 
of four nations, Marshall believed that 
it could be done and was willing "to go 
the limit" to achieve it. "A man with 
good judgment and unity of command," 

ls ABC-4/3, gi Dec 41; JPC Rpt, 28 Dec 41, sub: 
Supporting Measures for SWP, ABC-4/3; Rad, Mar- 
shall to MacArthur, 1 Jan 4a, WPD 4639. 

he said, "has a distinct advantage over 
a man with brilliant judgment who must 
rely on cooperation." But the consensus 
of the meeting was not in Marshall's 
favor and the subject was dropped after 
polite comment. 14 

The next day Mr. Roosevelt, appar- 
ently after discussion with Marshall and 
King, raised the question of a unified 
command in the Far East at a White 
House meeting with Churchill and 
others. The Prime Minister, like his 
military advisers, did not favor the idea 
and there the matter rested for the 
moment. But neither the President nor 
General Marshall abandoned their fight 
and both privately did their utmost to 
change Churchill's mind. 15 In this they 
were successful so far as the principle of 
unified command was concerned but 
agreement on the officer who would 
exercise such a command and the limits 
of his authority was not so easily reached. 
Oddly enough, the British wanted an 
American and the Americans favored 
a British officer, specifically General 
Wavell, then Commander-in-Chief, 
India, for the post. Finally on 28 Decem- 
ber, Churchill agreed to the American 
proposal and Wavell was alerted to his 
coming appointment. It was decided 
also that Wavell, when he assumed com- 
mand, would report to the Combined 
Chiefs of Staff, then being established, 
and that his headquarters would be 
located in Java. 

Meanwhile U.S. Army planners had 
been working on a directive designed 

J4 Mins, Arcadia Mtg, 25 Dec 41; Memo for File by 
Eisenhower, 28 Dec 41, sub: Notes of Chiefs of Staff 
Conf, 25 Dec 41, WPD 4639. 

"Gerow, Notes on White House Conf, 36 Dec 41, 
OPD Exec Files; Mins of White House Conf, 26 Dec 
41, WDSCA Conf I; Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hop- 
kins, p. 457. 



primarily to show whether one could be 
drawn "which would leave the Supreme 
Commander with enough power to im- 
prove the situation and still not give 
him power to destroy national interests 
or to exploit one theater without due 
consideration to another." 16 The task 
was a difficult one and the results were 
not entirely satisfactory, the British 
Chiefs objecting on the ground that the 
limitations placed on the commander 
were too heavy. It was sent to the Allied 
planners, therefore, for further study 
and a revised draft was prepared. This 
one, with slight modifications, proved 
acceptable and was finally approved, 
though with some reluctance, by all the 
governments involved on 10 January 
I942- 17 

The new command Wavell was to 
head was to be known as ABDACOM, 
for the initials of the national forces 
involved (American, British, Dutch, and 
Australian) and included Burma, 
Malaya, the Netherlands Indies, and the 
Philippines. The inclusion of the Phil- 
ippines in Wavell's command was a 
formal gesture and one Wavell himself 
wished to avoid. 18 Significantly, neither 
China nor Australia was included in 
the ABDA area. \(Map 2)] As much for 
political as military reasons the former 
was organized as a separate theater 
commanded by Chiang Kai-shek, but 
independent of Allied control. The Aus- 
tralians, though they protested their 

™ Mins, Arcadia, 27 Dec 41 . 

"ABC-4/5, Directive to Supreme Comdr in ABDA 
Area, 10 Jan 42. An earlier version of the directive 
can be found in the 30 December meeting of the 
conference, and the directive actually issued to 
Wavell is dated 2 January, the day after the Presi- 
dent and Prime Minister approved it. 

,B Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 930, 12 Jan 42, 
WPD 4639—14. For additional papers on this subject, 
see WPD 4639-19. 

omission from the discussions in Wash- 
ington and their lack of representation 
in the Combined Chiefs of Staff, accepted 
the terms of the directive and permitted 
their troops in the ABDA area to become 
a part of Wavell's command. USAFIA 
(U.S. Army Forces in Australia) , how- 
ever, was not included in the new com- 
mand on the ground that its primary 
responsibility was to MacArthur and its 
main task to support the defense of the 
Philippines. Soon after Wavell assumed 
command, when it became apparent that 
only limited aid could be sent to the 
Philippines, the mission of USAFIA was 
broadened to include the support of 
operations in the ABDA area. And the 
northwest portion of Australia was also 
added to ABDACOM at General Wavell's 
request. 19 

The staff of the new command, it was 
understood, would represent all the 
nations concerned. The American and 
British Chiefs of Staff did not attempt 
to name Wavell's staff, but they did seek 
to guard against the preponderance of 
one nationality in his headquarters. 
Thus, they stipulated that his deputy 
and the commander of the naval forces 
would be Americans, and that a British 
officer would command the air forces 
and a Dutch officer the ground forces. 

The problem of protecting the inter- 
ests of each nation represented in 
ABDACOM without unduly restricting 
the commander was resolved by limit- 
ing Wavell's authority to the "effective 
coordination of forces." He was given 
command of all forces "afloat, ashore, 

,9 Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Mission to 
China, pp. 61-63; Rads, Marshall to Barnes, Nos. 206 
and 223, 27 and 30 Jan 42, both in WPD 4628-25; 
CCS 8, 24 Jan 42, sub: Inclusion of Darwin in ABDA, 
ABC 323.31 POA (1-29-42). 



and in the air," but was permitted to 
exercise that control only through sub- 
ordinate commanders whom he could 
not relieve and who had the right to 
appeal to their governments if they con- 
sidered their orders and national inter- 
ests to be in conflict. Though he could 
assign missions to his forces, form task 
forces for specific operations, and appoint 
their commanders, he was prohibited 
from altering the tactical organization 
of the national forces in his command, 
using their supplies, or controlling their 
communications with the home govern- 
ment. And in matters of logistics and 
administration he could exercise only 
the most general control. 

The severe limitations placed on Gen- 
eral Wavell's authority were in marked 
contrast to the heavy responsibilities laid 
upon him by the chiefs in Washington. 
Not only was he given the task of main- 
taining "as many key positions as possi- 
ble" under the strategic objectives 
already outlined (that is, to hold the 
Malay Barrier, Burma, and Australia) , 
a formidable enough undertaking in 
itself, but he was also enjoined "to take 
the offensive at the earliest opportunity 
and ultimately to conduct an allout 
offensive against Japan." "The first 
essential," the Chiefs told him, "is to 
gain general air superiority at the earli- 
est possible moment." With the lesson 
of the first Japanese successes still fresh 
in mind, they cautioned Wavell against 
dispersing his air forces or using them in 
piecemeal fashion. 20 

These instructions, with their empha- 
sis on offensive operations, were probably 

"ABC— 4/5, Directive for the Supreme Com- 
mander, a Jan 42. A copy is printed in General 
Wavell's account entitled "ABDACOM," app. A, 
copy in OCMH. 

motivated by an understandable reluc- 
tance in Washington to dedicate a com- 
mand to defensive action, but there was 
a clear realization that the forces in the 
theater were then and for some time 
would be hard pressed even to hold 
their own. And even as these instruc- 
tions were being written the enemy was 
moving swiftly and in force toward those 
"key positions" Wavell was to hold. 

Having established the ABDA area 
and appointed General Wavell its com- 
mander, the American and British staffs 
in Washington had still to settle the 
problem of reinforcements to the South- 
west Pacific, for it was obvious with 
each passing day that the situation there 
was rapidly worsening. This problem 
brought the assembled planners up 
against the hard fact, which was to 
plague them throughout the war, that 
there were not enough ships to do all 
the jobs required. They had earlier in 
the conference agreed 'that American 
troops would be sent to Iceland and 
northern Ireland, and that landings 
might be made in North Africa later in 
the year. The shipping requirements 
for these operations alone were so great 
that the North Atlantic sailings were 
approved only on the understanding 
that they would be discontinued "if 
other considerations intervened." 21 The 
necessity for speeding up the schedule of 
reinforcements to the Southwest Pacific 
created an additional and immediate 
demand for the ships already allocated 
to the North Atlantic projects and led to 
a re-examination of the entire shipping 

The debate over Atlantic versus Pa- 
cific priority on shipping was precipi- 

"Notes on White House Mtg, 1 Jan 42, WDCSA 
334 Mtgs and Confs. 



tated by Admiral Stark, who, on 1 1 
January, a day after General Wavell 
arrived in Batavia but before he assumed 
command, reviewed the critical situation 
in the Far East and raised the question 
of diverting ships from the less critical 
North Atlantic route to the Pacific. In 
this he had the support of General Mar- 
shall and Admiral King, but the British, 
in the belief that Singapore would hold 
and anxious for the Americans to re- 
lieve then in Iceland and Ireland, sought 
other ways to find the ships. The matter 
was finally referred to the shipping ex- 
perts who reported the next day that by 
delaying the North Atlantic sailings one 
month, which would have the effect also 
of delaying the proposed North African 
operation, and by reducing lend-lease 
shipments to the Soviet Union, it would 
be possible to send aircraft, gasoline, ar- 
tillery, and about 22,000 men across the 
Pacific on 20 January and an additional 
23,300 British troops shortly after. The 
Chiefs accepted this solution, as did the 
President and Prime Minister when Mr. 
Hopkins assured them that ships would 
be found to keep supplies moving to the 
Soviet Union. 22 The minimum force 
principle for allocation of resources to 
the Pacific had now been stretched so 
far as to justify the postponement of 
troop movements to Iceland and north- 
ern Ireland and, in part at least, the 
delay of the North African landings. In 
the days to come it was to be stretched 
even further. 

The conference scored one other major 
achievement before its close on 14 Janu- 
ary. Last on the agenda the British had 

22 Mins, Arcadia, 11 and 12 Jan 42; ann. 1 to 10th 
Mtg, 12 Jan 42; CofS Conf, 12 Jan 42, ABC 337 
Arcadia; White House Conf, same date, OPD Reg. 

submitted before the meeting was an 
item calling for the establishment of 
"joint machinery" for collaboration. 
Just what the British had in mind was 
not clear, but in preparation for the 
coming discussion the Americans studied 
the matter and decided they would seek 
as their solution to the problem of col- 
laboration the establishment of a Su- 
preme Allied War Council, patterned 
on the World War I model, and of two 
committees to support the council — a 
Military Joint Planning Committee and 
a Joint Supply Committe. 23 

The idea of a Supreme Allied War 
Council came up early in the confer- 
ence. It quickly became apparent that 
the World War I model would hardly 
meet the requirements of a global war, 
and action was deferred until the more 
urgent problems were disposed of. Fi- 
nally, on the 13 th, the British returned 
to the subject of the organization of the 
alliance. By this time the ABDA com- 
mand had been created and Admiral Sir 
Dudley Pound suggested that the same 
pattern be followed on a global scale. 
This was entirely agreeable to the 
Americans, as was the British suggestion 
to avoid confusion between Allied and 
national activities by adopting a stand- 
ard nomenclature. Joint was to be used 
for interservice collaboration of one 
nation; combined, for collaboration 
between two or more nations. 24 

One further matter remained to be 
settled — the location of the Allied com- 
mand post. The British, naturally, 

23 JB 325, ser 729. For full discussion of this subject, 
see Vernon E. Davis, Origins of the Joint and Com- 
bined Chiefs of Staff, vol. I, Organizational Develop- 
ment, ch. V, History of the JCS in World War II. 

"Mins, Arcadia Mtg, 13 Jan 42; Post Arcadia Col- 
laboration, 10 Jan 42, an. 4 to Mins, Arcadia, 10 
Jun 42. 



wanted it in London; the Americans, in 
Washington. There had been some con- 
sideration earlier in the conference of a 
dual system operating out of both capi- 
tals, but this idea was quickly discarded. 
By the 13th it had been virtually decided 
that the headquarters of the alliance 
would be in Washington. The British 
therefore proposed to leave in the 
American capital Field Marshal Sir John 
Dill to represent Mr. Churchill on the 
highest levels, and the heads of the Joint 
Staff Mission, the organization estab- 
lished after the ABC-i meetings in 
March 1940, to represent the Chiefs of 
Staff. Similarly, the Americans were to 
designate their own officials to represent 
the President and the Chiefs of Staff in 

The Americans did not favor this 
solution. Though they did not object 
to Sir John Dill's appointment and even 
preferred him to anyone else, they felt 
that British representation in Washing- 
ton should be limited to the level of the 
Chiefs of Staff. The assignment of a 
high-ranking British officer in Washing- 
ton with access to the President would, 
they believed, create many problems. 
The proposal also seemed to them to 
suggest the dual command post concept. 
To General Marshall, "there could be 
no question of having any duplication 
of the Combined Chiefs of Staff organ- 
ization in Washington and London." 
Though he had no objection to parallel 
subordinate committees, "there could 
be," he asserted, "only one Combined 
Chiefs of Staff who would give broad di- 
rections on the allocation of materiel." 28 

The final details for U.S.-British col- 
laboration were settled at the last meet- 

"Mins, Arcadia Mtg, 15 Jan 48, 

ing of the conference. On the evening 
of the 13th the Americans prepared a 
draft of the arrangements already agreed 
upon, which with some modifications was 
accepted by the British and became the 
basis for the organization of the Com- 
bined Chiefs of Staff during the war. 28 
As defined by the conferees, the Com- 
bined Chiefs of Staff consisted of the 
British Chiefs of Staff or their represen- 
tatives in Washington, and the U.S. 
Chiefs, who, in the accepted terminology, 
were designated as the U.S. Joint Chiefs 
of Staff. The Combined Chiefs were to 
sit in Washington only and to meet 
weekly, or more often if necessary. They 
were to have a secretariat to maintain 
their records and prepare and distribute 
their papers, and a staff of planners 
designated the Combined Staff Planners 
(consisting of the chief American plan- 
ners and their British opposite numbers). 
This latter group was "to make such 
studies, draft such plans, and perform 
such other work" as directed by the 

The authority granted to the Com- 
bined Chiefs was broad. They were to 
"develop and submit recommendations" 
for the ABDA area and for the other 
areas "in which the United Nations may 
decide to act in concert . . . modified as 
necessary to meet the particular circum- 
stances." To perform these functions, 
they were given responsibility for recom- 
mending to their political superiors "a 
broad program" of the requirements for 
implementing strategic decisions and for 
preparing general directives establishing 
policy governing the distribution of the 
weapons of war. Such weapons and war 
equipment were to be allocated "in ac- 

I6 ABC-4/CS 4, 14 Jan 42, sub: Post- Arcadia Col- 
laboration; Mins, Arcadia Mtg, 14 Jan 42, an. 2. 



cordance with strategical needs" through 
appropriate groups in Washington and 
London under the authority of the Com- 
bined Chiefs. Finally, the Combined 
Chiefs were given responsibility to settle 
the broad issues of priority for overseas 
military movements. 

The combined organization estab- 
lished at the Arcadia Conference, 
though it stemmed in large measure 
from the efforts to meet the crisis in the 
Southwest Pacific, was patterned on the 
ABC-i arrangements and on British 
practice. Under the former, an effective 
and well-manned British Joint Staff Mis- 
sion had been established in Washington, 
and it was this body that provided the 
basis for a Combined Chiefs of Staff or- 
ganization in the American capital. 
British experience with committe organ- 
ization provided the other key to the 
combined system established at Arcadia. 
Thus, the Combined Chiefs were respon- 
sible to the President and Prime Minis- 
ter in much the same way as the British 
Chiefs were already responsible to 
Churchill in his dual capacity as Prime 
Minister and Minister of Defense. 27 And 
the organization of the U.S. Joint Chiefs 
of Staff that emerged during the months 
after the Arcadia Conference was shaped 
in large degree by the necessity for pro- 
viding American counterparts to the 
highly developed system of committees 
and secretariats under the British Chiefs' 
and the War Cabinet. 

The ABDACOM Interlude 

While the American and British heads 
of state with their military staffs were 
in Washington establishing the strategic 

"Davis, Origins of Joint and Combined Chiefs of 
Staff, I, p. 26g. 

basis and the organization for the con- 
duct of the war, the Japanese Army and 
Navy had continued their drive into 
Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pa- 
cific with unabated vigor. Operations 
during the first phase of their plan for 
seizing the southern area had been re- 
markably successful and in the first week 
of January 1942 they opened the second 
phase. The objectives of this phase of the 
plan included the seizure of the Bis- 
marck Archipelago and Malay Peninsula; 
the capture of Singapore; and, in prepa- 
ration for the final assault on Java, heart 
of the Indies, the acquisition of air and 
naval bases in southern Sumatra, Dutch 
Borneo, the Celebes, Amboina, and 
Timor. The occupation of Java itself 
and of northern Sumatra was scheduled 
for the third phase, after which the Japa- 
nese would complete their operations in 
Burma and consolidate their position in 
the conquered area. All these operations 
were to be completed by the end of 
April, in time to meet possible attack 
from the Soviet Union, which, the Japa- 
nese believed, would come in the spring, 
if it came at all that year. 

In Malaya there was no clear demarca- 
tion between the first and second phase. 
There the Japanese, driving in two col- 
umns down the east and west coasts of 
the peninsula, continued to advance 
without halt. Combining amphibious 
encirclement with frontal assault, Gen- 
eral Yamashita was able to force the 
stubborn British defenders back time 
after time until by 10 January he stood 
at the gates of Kuala Lumpur, on the 
west coast of Malaya, which his 5th 
Division captured the next day. His 
eastern column meanwhile had advanced 
to within 100 miles of Singapore. By the 
middle of the month, he had united his 



General ter Poorten greets General 
Wavell (left) on his arrival at Batavia. 

two columns and was preparing to at- 
tack the single line the gallant defenders 
had formed before the plain which con- 
stitutes the southern tip of the 
peninsula. 28 

So rapidly had their forces moved and 
so light had been resistance that even 
before the end of the year Japanese com- 
manders in the field were urging their 
superiors in Tokyo to speed the time- 
table of conquest. In the last week of 
December, Field Marshal Hisaichi Ter- 
auchi, commander of the Southern 
Army, and Vice Adm. Nobutake Kondo, 
2d Fleet commander, jointly recom- 
mended advancing the schedule of op- 
erations against Sumatra and Borneo, 

™2*jth Army Opns in Malaya, Japanese Studies in 
World War II, 85; Despatch by Lt Gen A. E. Perci- 
val, Opns of Malaya Command, 8 Dec 41-15 Feb 42, 
Supplement to the London Gazette, February so, 
1948. Kirby, et al, The Loss of Singapore, chs. XIV, 

thus making possible the invasion of 
Java a month earlier than planned. At 
Imperial General Headquarters the Ter- 
auchi-Kondo proposal met a favorable 
reception, for it would not only speed 
operations in the south and keep the 
enemy off balance but it would also make 
available at an earlier date the troops 
needed in Manchuria if the Soviet 
Union should enter the war — a danger 
that continued to haunt the Japanese. 
Early in January, therefore, Imperial 
General Headquarters approved the 
recommendation and advanced the time- 
table for the seizure of the southern 
area. 29 

The first signs of the increased tempo 
of Japanese operations in the Nether- 
lands Indies came very quickly. Late in 
December the Japanese had gained con- 
trol of British Borneo and the South 
China Sea approaches to the Malay 
Barrier. Now, in the first week of Janu- 
ary, the 16th Army, which had been 
given the 38th Division to accelerate its 
drive into the Indies, completed its prep- 
arations for the advance. At Davao in 
the southern Philippines it organized 
two task forces, one to take the import- 
ant oil center of Tarakan in northern 
Borneo, and the other Menado in the 
Celebes. Both left Davao at the same 
time, 9 January. The first landed at 
Tarakan on 1 1 January and, after over- 
coming slight resistance from the Dutch 
defenders aided by American B-17's 
based near Surabaya, took that town the 
same day. The second force, reinforced 
by about 330 naval paratroopers and 
supported by the seaplane tenders 
Chitose and Mizuho and three heavy 
cruisers, took Menado at the same time. 

™Hist of Army Section, Imperial GHQ (rev. ed.), 
Japanese Studies in World War II, 72, pp. 42-43. 



The seizure of these two points com- 
pleted the Japanese control of the 
Celebes Sea and the northern approaches 
to Makassar Strait. Through that strait 
lay one of the routes to Java. 30 

It was at this juncture, on 10 January, 
that General Wavell reached Batavia, 
capital of the Netherlands Indies, lo- 
cated on the northwest coast of Java. 
Already there or soon to arrive were his 
deputy, General Brett, and the com- 
manders of his ground and naval force, 
Lt. Gen. H. ter Poorten and Admiral 
Hart. In the absence of Air Marshal Sir 
Richard E. C. Peirse, General Brereton 
was appointed deputy commander of the 
air forces. On the 15th, General Wavell 
formally assumed command of the 
ABDA area (ABDACOM) with head- 
quarters at Lembang, inland from the 
capital and about ten miles north of 

Bandoeng. 31 (Chart 2) 

From the start it was apparent that 
the defense of the ABDA area, even in 
the unlikely event that the promised re- 
inforcements arrived in time, had little 
chance of success. Already the Japanese 
had taken Hong Kong, isolated the Phil- 
ippines, landed in Borneo and the 
Celebes, and were making rapid progress 
down the Malay Peninsula. To oppose 
their advance Wavell had, in addition to 
the British forces fighting a losing battle 
in Malaya and the American forces in 
the Philippines, two Dutch divisions in 
Java and small Dutch garrisons else- 

x Hist of Southern Army, Japanese Studies in 
World War II, 24, pp. 16, 19; Naval Opns in Invasion 
of NEI, Japanese Studies in World War II, 17, pp. 
18—20; Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 
280-281; Craven and Cate, AAF I, p. 380. The tenders 
were later converted into light carriers. 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 930, 12 Jan 42; 
to Brereton, No. 52, same date, both in WPD Msg 
File; Wavell, "ABDACOM," pp. 1-2. 

where in the Indies; a naval force — in- 
cluding the U.S. Asiatic Fleet — of 1 
heavy and 8 light cruisers, 23 destroyers, 
and 36 submarines; and an air force of 
4 fighter and 6 bomber squadrons, in- 
cluding the remnants of the Far East Air 
Force, plus 250 more planes in Burma 
and Malaya. With these meager forces 
General Wavell could only try to hold 
back the Japanese tide while waiting for 
reinforcements which never came. 32 

The urgent need for reinforcements 
was only one of Wavell's problems. 
Keeping the peace within his own small 
international headquarters, unraveling 
the confused command relationships be- 
tween his forces, and reconciling con- 
flicting national interests and strategic 
concepts were others almost as serious. 
Even so minor a matter as the location of 
the headquarters could not be settled 
amicably and it was only after he had 
overridden the strong objections of his 
naval commanders that Wavell estab- 
lished his headquarters at Lembang. 38 

The relationship between Wavell and 
MacArthur, though it created no diffi- 
culties, illustrated the confused situation 
in ABDACOM. In addition to the task 
of holding the Malay Barrier, Wavell 
had also been instructed to re-establish 
communications with Luzon and to sup- 
port the Philippine garrison. Before 
assuming command, he objected to this 
assignment and proposed that the islands 
be excluded from the ABDA area. Pres- 
ident Roosevelt, without consulting his 
military advisers, approved this sugges- 
tion to avoid any delay in Wavell's as- 
sumption of command. When General 
Marshall learned of this action he saw 

"Wavell, "ABDACOM," pp. 16-18. 
"Narrative of Events, Asiatic Fleet, Leading up to 
War, 8 Dec 41 to 15 Feb 4a, pp. 54-55, OCMH. 

Chart 2 — Organization of ABDACOM, January-February 1942 






Deputy Intendant General 

Naval Forces 
Admiral Hart, U.S. 
Deputy: Rear Adm A. F. E. Pullise-r 

Land Forces 
CG: Lt Gen H. terPoorten, Dutch 

Deputy and CofS; 
Maj Gen I S. O. Playfair, British 

Air Forces CG: Air Marshal 

Sir Richard Peine, British 
Deputy: Maj Gen Brerefon, U.S.. 


U.S. Forces 
Rear Adm Glassford 

Dutch Forces 
Rear Adm 
J. A. A. van Staveren 

British (and Australian) Forces 
Comdr J. A. Collins 

Task Forces 

Lf Gen T. J. Huttan 


Lt Gen A, E. Peicival 

Netherlands East Indies 
Lt Gen ter Poorten 

General Mac Art hu 

Darwin Sub-Command 


(Malaya, Sumatra) 

(Western Java & Southern Sumatra) 

Dutch (with U.S. Deputy) 

(Eastern Java) 

Source: ABDACOM, pp. 3-8 

(Molucca Sea to Australia) 
U.S. or Australian 



ABDA Command meeting with General Wavell for the first time. Seated around the table, 
from left: Admirals Layton, Helfrich, and Hart, General ter Poorten, Colonel Kengen, Royal 
Netherlands Army (at head of table), and Generals Wavell, Brett, and Brereton. 

that it might well have an adverse effect 
upon morale in the Philippines and was 
contrary to the ABDA agreement. An 
important reason for the establishment 
of Wavell's command had been the de- 
sire to co-ordinate the efforts of the 
Allies in the Far East, and the United 
States had allocated to the defense of 
ABDA aircraft which had been under 
MacArthur's command or sent out orig- 
inally for his use. With King's support, 
therefore, Marshall recommended to the 
President that he rescind his earlier mes- 
sage. The President saw the point im- 
mediately, and Wavell was told the day 
after he assumed command that the 
Philippines would remain in his area. 34 

M Rad, Wavell to British Chiefs of Staff, ABDA 48, 
14 Jan 42; Memo, WPD for U.S. Secy CCS, 16 Jan 42, 
both in WPD 4639-19; Ltr, U.S. Secy CCS to Brig V. 
Dykes, 16 Jan 42, sub: Responsibility of Supreme 
Commander ABDA, ABC 381 SWPA (1-12^2). 

The establishment of the ABDA area 
made necessary also a reshuffling of the 
U.S. Army commands already in exist- 
ence in the Southwest Pacific and South- 
east Asia. Although MacArthur was 
assured by the War Department that the 
establishment of ABDACOM would not 
alter his position or affect his forces, he 
actually lost a part of his command. The 
U.S. Army Forces in Australia were then 
a part of USAFFE (U.S. Army Forces, 
Far East) and under MacArthur's direc- 
tion. Now he was told that these forces 
would be formed into a separate com- 
mand on a level with USAFFE and 
placed under General Brereton, who 
had been selected because of his "inti- 
mate knowledge of your situation and 
needs." The reason for this move was 
that the Japanese advance into the Indies 
had made control by MacArthur of the 
forces in Australia and the Netherlands 



Indies impractical. But, he was assured, 
"when satisfactory communications with 
the Philippines have once been reestab- 
lished your resumption of actual com- 
mand of all American Army forces in the 
Far East will be easily accomplished." 35 

Other than the paper changes in com- 
mand, the establishment of ABDACOM 
had no effect on operations in the Philip- 
pines. MacArthur reported formally by 
radio to his new superior and sent repre- 
sentatives from Mindanao to Java to 
solicit what aid they could, but the rela- 
tionship between the two headquarters 
was never more than nominal. 

General Brereton's assignment as air 
commander in the ABDA area, pending 
the arrival of Air Marshal Pierse, com- 
plicated an already confusing situation. 
Brereton was also commander of U.S. 
Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA) , a 
post General Brett had held before him, 
and in this capacity also came under 
Wavell's control. But this control was 
only partial, for, as the War Department 
explained to Brereton, "U.S. troops in 
Australian territory come under the 
control of General Wavell only when 
specifically allotted for service in the 
ABDA area." 36 

The physical difficulties of exercising 
command simultaneously over USAFIA, 
a logistical and administrative head- 
quarters in Australia, and over ABDAIR, 
an operational headquarters in Java, as 
well as the conflicting missions of the 
two, made it imperative to clarify 
Brereton's status. On the 16th, there- 
fore, a day after he assumed command, 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 930, 11 Jan 42, 
WPD 4639-14. 

M Rad, WD to Brereton, No. 52, 12 Jan 42, WPD 
4628-20; Marshall to MacArthur, No. 930, same date, 
WPD 4639-14- 

General Wavell, at Brereton's request, 
asked Marshall to relieve Brereton of 
his responsibilities in Australia so that 
he could concentrate on the full-time 
job of directing his air forces. This was 
quickly done, and General Barnes, who 
had in effect been directing the activi- 
ties of USAFIA since the isth, was au- 
thorized to assume command of base 
facilities in Australia. 37 

Barnes himself seems to have been 
somewhat confused about his status and 
responsibilities for he was never formally 
designated as a commander of USAFIA 
and Brereton continued to receive mes- 
sages addressed to him with that title. 
Moreover, when Brereton had difficulty 
getting logistical support from Australia 
that he wanted, he complained to the 
War Department, which promptly in- 
formed Barnes that he was to provide 
that support as best he could. At the 
same time, the War Department made it 
clear to Barnes that he was not under 
Brereton's but Wavell's command, and 
that General Brett, as Wavell's deputy, 
could issue orders to him. So far as the 
War Department was concerned this 
ended the matter, but General Barnes, 
even at the end of January, was appar- 
ently not clear on his relationship to 
ABDACOM "in general" and to General 
Brett "in particular regarding troops 
and supplies in Australia." 38 

Not only was there confusion over 
command in the ABDA area, but na- 
tional commanders differed with one 

37 Rads, Brett to Marshall, ABDA 7 and 22, 15 and 
16 Jan 42, WPD Msg File; Wavell to Marshall, ABDA 
71, 16 Jan 42; Marshall to Wavell, No. 25, same date; 
both in WPD 4639—19. 

38 Rads, Barnes to Marshall, No. 130, 29 Jan 42; 
No. 138, 31 Jan 42, WPD Msg File; Marshall to 
Barnes, No. 20S and 223, 27 and 30 Jan 42; Marshall 
to Brett, No. 48, 27 Jan 42, all in WPD 4628-25. 



another and with the Supreme Com- 
mander over the conduct of operations 
and the allocation of resources. To the 
American, Dutch, and Australian offi- 
cers, it seemed that General Wavell was 
devoting far too much attention, as well 
as a disproportionate share of Allied re- 
sources, to the defense of Malaya, Singa- 
pore, and Burma, an attitude that 
seemed to them to reflect British rather 
than Allied interests. The American 
commanders, Admiral Hart and Gen- 
eral Brereton, free from any territorial 
interest in the area, wished to protect 
the lines of communication and air and 
naval bases along the Malay Barrier, 
which they believed essential links in 
defensive structure of the Southwest 
Pacific and the starting points for offen- 
sive operations. The Dutch desired 
above all else to concentrate Allied re- 
sources on the defense of their territories. 
And the Australians, concerned over the 
defense of the homeland, continually 
pressed for a greater share of the theater's 
resources on the east. If General Wavell 
made any effort to reconcile these views, 
the records do not show it. Despite the 
representations of the national com- 
manders to their governments — in 
Washington Brett's were refuted by the 
Army planners, as was his proposal to 
break up the new theater — Wavell con- 
tinued to act on the assumption that the 
security of the Netherlands Indies and 
Australia depended on the defense of 
Malaya and Singapore. 39 

These difficulties were brought out 
sharply in the discussion of naval rein- 

311 Hart, Narrative of Events, passim; Lewis H. 
Brereton, The Brereton Diaries (New YoTk: William 
Morrow and Company, 1946, pp. 88—89; Memo, WPD 
for TAG, 17 Jan 42, sub: Comd in ABDA, WPD 
4639-29; Rad, Brett to Marshall, ABDA 95, OPD 
Exec Files. 

forcements. Most of the British and 
Dutch vessels in the area were assigned 
to convoy duty, leaving only the U.S. 
Asiatic Fleet, based on Surabaya, free 
for operations. The Dutch, whose naval 
forces were under the operational con- 
trol of the British, were none too happy 
over this assignment, preferring to em- 
ploy their vessels in the defense of Dutch 
territory. Their irritation was further 
increased by the British announcement 
of the transfer of some of their cruisers 
and destroyers to the Indian Ocean and 
American refusal to provide naval rein- 
forcements for convoy duty. Ultimately 
the Australians were persuaded to send 
additional vessels into the area, but the 
damage had been done and the Dutch 
resentment persisted. 40 

The Dutch were displeased also with 
the way naval operations were being con- 
ducted. Admiral Hart, they felt, had his 
forces too far back and was showing 
more concern over Darwin and the sup- 
ply routes to Australia than over the 
progress of the enemy through Makassar 
Strait and the Molucca Sea. They were 
disappointed, too, over their failure to 
gain command of the naval elements in 
ABDA. Their interests, they felt, were 
predominant and their knowledge of the 
area greater than that of the Americans. 
This attitude, which Dutch naval offi- 
cers made little effort to conceal, added 
to Hart's already considerable burdens 
and complicated his task enormously. 

By the end of January, relations be- 
tween Admiral Hart and the Dutch 
naval commander had become so strained 
that they could no longer be ignored. 
It was then that General Wavell sug- 
gested to the Prime Minister that Hart 

* Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. HI, pp. 



be relieved on account of his age and 
that a Dutch officer, or, if the United 
States would send naval reinforcements 
to the ABDA area, a younger American 
be given command. The suggestion was 
passed on to Washington and finally to 
Hart himself who replied that he did 
not consider himself too old to discharge 
his duties and did not wish to be relieved. 
Though both Admirals King and Stark 
supported the Asiatic Fleet commander, 
the President decided to adopt Wavell's 
suggestion. His decision was influenced 
largely by the fact that the United States 
had refused to send naval reinforcements 
to the area and by the hope that the 
Dutch would assume a more active role 
in the naval defense of ABDA. There 
was never any feeling, Admirals King 
and Stark later recalled, that Hart had 
proved unfit or that he was too old to 
exercise command. After the President 
had made his decision Hart had no re- 
course but to step down, which he did 
on the 5th by asking to be relieved on 
account of ill health, a course Admiral 
Stark had recommended to him. Six 
days later the Secretary of the Navy 
ordered him home. 41 His place was 
taken by Vice Adm. Conrad E. L. 
Helfrich, Dutch naval commander. 

With the relief of Admiral Hart, 
ABDACOM lost its last American force 
commander. Air Marshall Pierse had 
taken over from General Brereton on 
28 January, as originally intended, and 
the Dutch continued to command the 
ground forces. The U.S. Chiefs, anxious 
to secure direction of one of the major 
elements in ABDACOM in the interests 
of "homeland support," put forward 
Brett's name as commander of the 

,l Ibid., pp. 20-22; Hart, Narrative of Events; Mins, 
CCS Mtg, 10 Feb 42. 

Admirals Helfrich and Hart 

Allied air forces. Both the President and 
the Prime Minister supported the nomi- 
nation, but Brett seems to have had 
larger ambitions and argued that such a 
"drastic change" would be unsettling. 
The matter was dropped. 42 

While the Allies sought to solve the 
problem of command and bring rein- 
forcements into the area, the Japanese 
continued to advance almost without 
interruption. In Malaya General Yama- 
shita forced the British back from line 
after line until on 27 January Lt. Gen. 
A. E. Percival, the British commander in 
Malaya, withdrew his forces to Singa- 
pore. The causeway connecting the fort- 
ress to the mainland was blown on 31 
January. Only the waters of Johore 
Strait lay between Yamashita and his goal. 

For a week, while the Singapore gar- 

^Rads, Marshall to Brett, No. 73, 4 Feb 42, WPD 
4628-27; Brett to Marshall, 3 Feb 42, AB 371 



rison desperately prepared its defenses, 
Japanese aircraft and artillery paved the 
way for the final assault. Shortly before 
midnight of 8 February, under cover of 
an extremely heavy artillery bombard- 
ment, the Japanese began to cross the 
straits. By the morning of the gth, they 
had established a firm position on the 
island and were pouring reinforcements 
into the lodgment area. From there the 
Japanese spread over the island, infiltrat- 
ing the defender's lines and isolating 
them into small pockets of resistance. 
On the 15th General Percival, with his 
water, food, and ammunition gone, de- 
cided that further resistance was impos- 
sible. That afternoon, he met Yamashita 
at the Ford Motor Factory and formally 
surrendered his command, an act which 
symbolized the end of British imperial 
power in the Far East. 43 

The loss of Singapore was a major 
blow to the Allied cause in the Far East 
and a disaster of the first magnitude for 
the British who had long regarded it as 
an impregnable fortress and the key to 
the defense of Australia, New Zealand, 
and India. Fortunately, the British es- 
timate of the importance of Singapore to 
the security of the Dominions proved in- 
correct, but that did not lessen the imme- 
diate shock or minimize the seriousness 
of the blow to the British Far Eastern 
Fleet, which had already sufEered the loss 
of the Prince of Wales and Repulse. 
With its base gone, the British Navy 
now had to retire to Sydney in Australia 
and to Ceylon, and when Ceylon was 
threatened briefly in April, to the east 
coast of Africa. 

"Percival, Opns in Malaya; 25 tk Army Opns in 
Malaya, Japanese Studies in World War II, 85, pp. 
5&-110; Wavell, "ABDACOM," pp. 32-42; Kirby, 
et al, The Loss 0/ Singapore, ch. XXIV. 

For ABDACOM, which had been 
established only a month before, the fall 
of Singapore was a crushing blow. In 
anticipation of this disaster, General 
Wavell had warned the Chiefs of Staff 
on the 13 th that a drastic change in plans 
might soon be necessary. It was doubt- 
ful, he wrote, that Sumatra, obviously 
the next Japanese objective, could be 
held, and if it were not, then Java would 
fall. Though he told the Chiefs he in- 
tended to continue his present plans for 
the defense of Java "until situation en- 
forces changes," it was apparent by the 
13th that he had no real hope for suc- 
cess, a view that was reinforced by his 
recommendation to divert reinforce- 
ments, two Australian divisions, already 
en route from the Middle East to Java, 
to Australia or Burma, preferably the 
latter. 44 

The Dutch took violent exception to 
Wavell's estimate. They insisted that 
Java must be defended, regardless of the 
fate of Sumatra. To them and to the 
Netherlands Government-in-exile Java 
had an even greater political, moral, and 
sentimental significance than Singapore 
had for the British. Wavell's proposal 
seemed to them an abandonment by their 
Allies and confirmed their worst fears 
that ABDACOM was a device to use 
Allied resources for the defense of Singa- 
pore and of British interests in the Far 

Unpalatable as it was to the Dutch, 
Wavell's estimate had to be accepted for 
not only was Singapore about to fall into 
Japanese hands, but Java was clearly 
threatened from three directions — the 
South China Sea, Makassar Strait, and 
Molucca Sea. Following up the Borneo 

"Rads, Wavell to CCS, 13 Feb 42, CCOS 7; Wavell 
to CCS, 15 Feb 42, CCOS 8, OPD ABDA Msg File. 



landings of late December and early 
January, the Japanese, moving by water 
through Makassar Strait, had landed at 
Balikpapan on the 24th. The landings 
had been made only after a battle with 
U.S. naval forces — their first of the war 
— in which the American destroyers won 
a tactical victory but failed to stop the 
enemy. The Japanese took Balikpapan 
easily but failed to capture the oil re- 
fineries there. These, the Dutch had 
already gutted. 

From Balikpapan, the Japanese moved 
on to Bandjermasin, along the southeast 
coast of Borneo, which they took on 10 
February. Only a day before, another 
Japanese force had sailed through the 
Molucca Sea to land at Makassar on the 
southwest tip of Celebes Island, facing 
Makassar Strait. By 10 February that 
strait and the north shore of the Java 
Sea were under Japanese control. 

The Molucca Sea approach to the 
Malay Barrier fell into Japanese hands 
as a result of amphibious hops and 
naval-air engagements in which the 
Allies fought a desperate but losing 
battle. From Menado, which they had 
taken on 1 1 January, the Japanese moved 
on to Kendari on the 24th, the same day 
they landed at Balikpapan. Amboina 
Island was occupied a week later by a 
strong force which overcame the small 
Dutch and Australian garrison with little 
difficulty. By the end of the month the 
Japanese controlled the Molucca Sea and 
were in position to cut the line between 
Java and Australia and to breach the 
east flank of the Malay Barrier. 

On the western flank of the barrier, 
the Japanese had early secured the South 
China Sea approaches and on 9 February, 
without waiting for the fall of Singapore, 
launched their attack on southern Su- 

matra. From Camranh Bay in Indo- 
china came a strong naval force to 
support the transports headed for 
Palembang with its airfield and oil re- 
finery. On the 14th about 700 para- 
troopers were dropped in the Palembang 
area, but achieved only a limited success 
against the Dutch and British defenders. 
At the end of the day Allied troops were 
still in control, but next morning, when 
the main Japanese force landed upshore 
and began to move toward Palembang, 
they withdrew. Two days later, the Japa- 
nese were in control of southern Su- 
matra, leaving the northern part of the 
island to the conquerors of Singapore. 
Only the Straits of Sunda now separated 
the Japanese from their main objective, 
Java. 45 

By 16 February, three days after 
Wavell had told the Combined Chiefs in 
Washington that he might not be able 
to hold Sumatra, the situation in the 
ABDA area had rapidly worsened. There 
was no longer any chance of holding 
Java, Wavell now told the Chiefs. Its 
loss would be serious, he asserted, and 
would deprive the Allies of their only 
base in the South China Sea. But, he 
pointed out, the fall of Java would not 
be fatal to the Allied cause. Burma and 
Australia, not Java, he declared, were 
the "absolutely vital" positions in the 
war against Japan. He therefore recom- 
mended again that the two Australian 
divisions be diverted to Burma, with 

■"For accounts of these operations, see Wavell, 
"ABDACOM," pp. 52-67; Morison The Rising Sun 
in the Pacific, pp. 280-311; Craven and Cate, AAF I, 
ch I, ch X; Hist of Southern Army, Japanese Studies 
in World War II, 24, pp. 16, 19; Naval Opns in 
Invasion of NEI, Japanese Studies in World War 
II, 17, pp. 18—20, 22—23, 26-27; Ambon and Timor 
Invasions, Japanese Studies in World War II, 30, 
pp. 1-15. 



Americans providing reinforcements for 
Australia.* 6 

Washington agreed with Wavell's es- 
timate of the probable loss of Java. 
Reinforcement was evidently futile and 
the wisest course, the Combined Chiefs 
thought, would be to send at least one 
of the Australian divisions to Burma and 
the other to Australia. It was clear also 
that the fall of Java would split the 
ABDA area and make a co-ordinated 
defense of its eastern and western ex- 
tremities impossible. The British there- 
fore suggested that Burma be taken out 
of ABDACOM and transferred to their 
command in India, a proposal that the 
U.S. Chiefs and General Wavell, who 
had always believed Burma was an inte- 
gral part of the Indian command, readily 
accepted. This was accomplished formal- 
ly on 2 1 February. 47 The plan for send- 
ing the Australian divisions to Burma, 
however, came to naught. Concerned 
over the defense of their own country, 
the Australians persistently refused, de- 
spite strong appeals from Churchill and 
Roosevelt, to permit the diversion of 
these divisions to Burma, and finally, on 
23 February, they were ordered home. 48 

Though the loss of Java was conceded 
by all except the Dutch, there was a re- 
luctance to act on this assumption. To 
do so would create the impression that 
the Americans and British were desert- 

"Rad, Wavell to Prime Minister and Dill, 16 Feb 
42, OPD ABDA Msg File. 

"'Mins, CCS Mtg, 17 Feb 42; Rads, CCS to 
ABDACOM, 17 and 21 Feb 42; ABDACOM to CCS, 
19 Feb 42, OPD ABDA Msg File. 

"For a full discussion of this matter, see Lionel 
Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, ser. I, vol, 4, "Aus- 
tralia in the War of 1939—1945" (Canberra: Aus- 
tralian War Memorial, 1957), pp. 442—65. Churchill's 
account of this incident is somewhat different. Win- 
ston S. Churchill, The Hinge of Fate (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1950), pp. 155-66. 

ing their Dutch allies. On the 20th, 
therefore, the Combined Chiefs, assert- 
ing that "every day gained is of import- 
ance," directed Wavell to defend Java 
"with the utmost resolution" and not to 
withdraw or surrender any of the troops 
there. To minimize the loss of Allied 
troops in Java, the Chiefs specifically 
prohibited Wavell from reinforcing that 
island further, but did give him discre- 
tion to use his naval forces and American 
planes in Australia as he thought best. 49 

Even as these fresh instructions were 
being received at ABDACOM, the Japa- 
nese were making their execution impos- 
sible. On the igth, they landed on the 
southern tip of Bali, immediately to the 
east of Java. Next day they landed on 
Timor, half of which was Dutch and 
half Portuguese. Control of these islands, 
lying between Java and northwest Aus- 
tralia, completed the isolation of Java, 
placed Japanese land-based fighters with- 
in bombing range of the Dutch base at 
Surabaya, and made further reinforce- 
ments from Australia impossible. 

With the Japanese making ready for 
the final assault on Java, General Wavell 
turned to his superiors for new instruc- 
tions. Their orders were to transfer 
command of Java to the Dutch and with- 
draw, but to maintain ABDACOM and 
keep his headquarters intact. When and 
where he would go was left to him. 
Ground forces "for whom there are 
arms" were to remain and continue the 
fight, but air forces that could operate 
from bases outside Java and other troops 
"who cannot contribute to defense" 
were to be withdrawn, the Americans and 
Australians to go to Australia. General 
Brett was to return to Australia, when 

"Rad, CCS to ABDACOM, DBA 19, 20 Feb 42, 
OPD ABDA Msg File. 



released by Wavell, to command the U.S. 
forces there. 60 

The ABDA commander did not agree 
with the program. What he wanted was 
the dissolution of ABDACOM, all rea- 
son for its existence having disappeared. 
Burma, he pointed out, had already been 
separated from the ABDA theater and 
Java's defense was a local problem, best 
handled by the Dutch themselves. If the 
Philippines, which had never really been 
under his control, were taken over by 
the Americans again and northwest Aus- 
tralia by the Australians, he told the 
Chiefs, he could turn over his remaining 
forces to the Dutch and leave the area 
by 25 February. 51 

This recommendation was in line with 
the solution being proposed by the 
British Chiefs of Staff for the establish- 
ment of two areas in the Far East, one 
to be under American control and to 
include Australia; the other a British 
area encompassing India and the Indian 
Ocean. The Dutch opposed such a solu- 
tion for fear it would mean the end of 
Allied assistance in the Netherlands 
Indies. 'For God's sake," wrote the Dutch 
governor-general to Marshall, "take the 
strong and active decisions and don't 
stop sending materials and men." 52 

Still anxious to avoid the appearance 
of abandoning their allies, the U.S. 
Chiefs continued to oppose the dissolu- 
tion of ABDACOM. But in recognition 
of the fact that Wavell had lost the con- 

"Rads, CCS to ABDACOM, DBA 20 and 22, 21 and 
22 Feb 42, OPD ABDA Msg File; Marshall to Brett, 
No. 185, 21 Feb 42, WPD 4639-48; Mins, CCS Mtg, 
21 Feb 42. 

"Rads, ABDACOM to CCS, CCOS 19 and 20, 22 
and 23 Feb 42, OPD ABDA Msg File. 

ra Rad, H. J. Van Mook to Marshall, 22 Feb 42, 
OPD ABDA Msg File. 

fidence of the Dutch and obviously 
wanted to pull out, they agTeed to the 
dissolution of his headquarters and his 
transfer to India, leaving control of the 
ABDA area to the Dutch. And lest the 
Dutch should think that the Americans 
had made this arrangement to shirk their 
commitments, Marshall assured the 
Dutch governor that the forces then as- 
sembling in Australia were "seeking 
opportunity to enter the ABDA battle" 
and would "continue their full support 
of the Dutch commanders in their 
magnificent fight." 63 

On the 25th General Wavell turned 
over command to the Dutch and left for 
India where General Brereton had al- 
ready gone to organize an American air 
force. This move placed MacArthur 
technically under the Dutch, but he had 
already been told that "because of your 
special situation all procedures in your 
case remain as heretofore." 54 The bur- 
den of defending Java was now squarely 
on the Dutch. Their forces, with the 
exception of minor ground units (in- 
cluding an American artillery battalion), 
American and British naval units, and 
a small U.S.-Australian fighter force, 
composed the entire command. 

There was still a chance that fighters 
could be brought in by sea, though the 
air ferry route had been closed by the 
Japanese seizure of Timor. To this task 
was assigned the aircraft tender Langley, 
which on 23 February had been ordered 
to Tjilatjap, on the south coast of Java, 

n Rad, Marshall to Van Mook, 24 Feb 42, WPD 
4639-55; British COS to Joint StaH Mission, No. 76, 
23 Feb 42, ABC 323.31 POA; Mins, CCS Mtg, 23 Feb 
42; CCS to ABDACOM, DBA 23, 23 Feb 42, OPD 
ABDA Msg File. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 1083, 24 Feb 
42, WPD 4639-54. 



with its cargo of thirty- two assembled 
P— 40's and their pilots. On the 27th, 
almost within sight of Java, it was spot- 
ted by Japanese patrol planes and sunk. 
The freighter Seawitch with 27 P-40's in 
her hold had left Fremantle at the same 
time, but sailed separately and made its 
way successfully to Java. It arrived there 
on the eve of invasion and the P— 40's, 
still crated, were dumped into the sea 
to prevent their capture. 65 

Meanwhile the Japanese had com- 
pleted their preparations for the invasion 
of Java. D-day was set for 28 February. 
Supporting the invasion was the largest 
force of warships the Japanese had yet 
assembled for an amphibious operation. 
In it were four battleships, led by Ad- 
miral Kondo, a carrier group led by 
Admiral Nagumo of Pearl Harbor fame, 
and the two attack forces, each now con- 
siderably reinforced. 

The approach of the Japanese was 
carefully traced by the Allies, and Ad- 
miral Helfrich, Hart's successor as Allied 
naval commander, estimated that the 
convoys would reach Javanese waters 
early on the 27th. Hurriedly he made his 
plans to meet the attack with a woefully 
inferior naval force led by Rear Adm. 
K. W. F. M. Doorman. All Doorman 
had were 2 heavy cruisers, one of them 
the USS Houston, 3 light cruisers, and 
1 1 destroyers. Contact between the op- 
posing forces came shortly after 1500 of 
the 27th, and the fight that began then 
raged throughout the afternoon and into 
the night. By the time the battle of the 
Java Sea was over the Allies had lost 
half their ships, including the flagship 

"Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 359- 
63; Craven and Cate, AAF I, 396-98. 

and Admiral Doorman. The Japanese 
had not lost a single vessel. 86 

During the next few days the Japanese 
completed their control of the air and 
sea approaches to Java. From their 
circle of bases surrounding the island 
patrol planes kept constant watch while 
bombers completed the destruction of 
Allied airfields and military installations. 
At the same time the powerful battle 
fleet ranged the waters of the Java Sea 
to hunt down the remnants of the Allied 
fleet which were split between Surabaya 
and Batavia, seeking some way to make 
their escape into the Indian Ocean. The 
last fight began on the night of 28 Feb- 
ruary when the heavy cruisers USS Hou- 
ston and H.M.S. Exeter, accompanied by 
the light cruisers H.M.A.S. Perth and 
two destroyers, tried to slip through 
Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra. 
The Japanese had already closed the 
strait and the Allied warships sailed into 
a trap. That night, in a vigorous battle 
which lasted past midnight, the Houston 
and Perth went down. Next day, 1 
March, the Exeter was sunk off the coast 
of Borneo. 

Meanwhile the Japanese convoys had 
come in for the landing. On the way 
the convoy was attacked by three sub- 
marines and the remaining planes of the 
Allied air force, about ten light bombers 
and fifteen fighters, and suffered some 
damage. But the landing was accom- 
plished without serious difficulty, and by 
morning of the 1st the Japanese were 
consolidating their positions and rapidly 
expanding the beachheads. 

"For an exciting account of the battle, see Mori- 
son, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 342—59. An 
analysis of the battle is contained in Rear Adm 
William A. Glassford, Narrative of Events in the 
SW Pacific, 14 Feb-5 Apr 42, WDCSA 210.72 (5-20- 
42) SPA. 



Though the Dutch had concentrated 
their remaining ground forces in Java, 
mostly in the western portion of the 
island, the issue was never in doubt. 
The Japanese moved inland rapidly, 
splitting the Dutch Army on the island 
and isolating the defenders into small 
groups. Batavia fell on the 2d without 
a struggle, after the government moved 
inland to Bandoeng. It was not safe even 
there, for the Japanese closed in on this 
mountain retreat and by the 8th were in 
position to attack the remnants of the 
Dutch Army defending it. The next 
morning the Dutch surrendered and the 
fight for Java was over. 57 

For the Japanese, the conquest of the 
Indies was the crowning achievement of 
the war. It realized their long-cherished 
dream of empire. The rich resources of 
Southeast Asia, the oil, rubber, and 
manganese needed for war and for the 
control of Asia, were now in their pos- 
session. And all this had been won in 
three months. 

For the Allies the fall of Java marked 
the loss of the Malay Barrier, "the basic 
defensive position" in the Far East. The 
strategic significance of this loss was 
enormous. Not only did the Allies lose 
the resources of the Indies and their lines 
of communications northward, but they 
found themselves in a perilous position, 
split into two areas and threatened by 
invasion. The gateway to the Indian 
Ocean lay open and Australia and India 
were in dire danger. And the Allies 
could ill afford to lose the ships, planes, 
and men that went down in the heroic 
defense of Malaya, Singapore, and the 

"Invasion of the NEI, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 16; Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 
PP' 363—75; Craven and Cate, AAF I, 397-98. 

The defeat of ABDACOM was, in a 
sense, the inevitable outcome of Allied 
weakness. There was no time to as- 
semble in an area so remote from the 
sources of supply sufficient aircraft to 
contest Japanese domination of the air. 
Although reinforcements adequate for 
this task were allocated by the Com- 
bined Chiefs of Staff, only a trickle, 
barely enough to replace losses, reached 
its destination. The warships that might 
have challenged the invaders were en- 
gaged in other tasks, and when they were 
finally organized into a combined strik- 
ing force it was already too late. In the 
six weeks of its existence ABDACOM 
never had a chance to test the validity 
of General Marshall's contention that a 
unified command would "solve nine- 
tenths of our troubles." But important 
lessons about Allied command could be 
learned from the disagreements and dif- 
ferences which marked the brief exist- 
ence of ABDACOM and these were not 
lost when the time came to establish 
other commands later in the war. 

While the campaign for Java was in 
progress, the Japanese had pushed on 
to take northern Sumatra and central 
Burma, .thus consolidating their control 
of the southern area and cutting China 
off from its Allies. From Singapore, ten 
days after that fortress had fallen, came 
the troops to take northern Sumatra. 
With their arrival the defenders of the 
island fled to Java in time to join the 
fight there, and eventually to surrender. 
Burma was to have been seized in two 
phases and its occupation completed 
only after operations to the south were 
over. But early in January the schedule 
had been speeded up and before the end 
of the month the 15th Army had pushed 
across the Thai-Burma border and seized 



Moulmein. On 8 March, after the battle 
of Sittang Bridge where the Japanese 
destroyed two Indian brigades, they cap- 
tured Rangoon, southern terminus of 
the supply line to China and the port of 
entry for lend-lease supplies. Pushing on 
to the north, they had by mid-March 
reached the Toungoo-Prome line in cen- 
tral Burma, and though they did not 
finally gain victory there until early in 
May they had effectively blockaded 
China by the time the Indies had 

fallen. 5S By the end of March, the vast 
area of sea and land from New Guinea 
and northwest Australia to central Bur- 
ma, which had formed ABDACOM, 
was under Japanese control. Only to 
the north, in the Philippines, where 
American and Filipino troops still stood 
fast, had the Japanese failed to meet 
their timetable of conquest. 

"For an account of the campaign in Burma, see 
Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Mission to 
China, chs. Ill and IV. 


The Philippines 

Posterity, thinned by the crimes of the ancestors, shall hear of those battles. 


In the period when the Japanese were 
overrunning Malaya and the Indies their 
campaign in the Philippines progressed 
slowly. Their initial success had been 
spectacular. First they had knocked out 
the Far East Air Force, established air 
and naval supremacy in the Philippines, 
and seized advance airfields on Luzon. 
Then, on 22 December, General Homma 
put the bulk of his 14th Army ashore at 
Lingayen Gulf, north of Manila. The 
remainder landed two days later at La- 
mon Bay, south of the capital, to form 
the southern arm of a giant pincer move- 
ment converging on Manila. But Hom- 
ma quickly discovered he was dealing 
with a determined and able foe. Mac- 
Arthur did not, as Homma and Imperial 
General Headquarters expected, stay to 
fight it out on the central plain of Lu- 
zon. Instead he put into effect the long- 
standing Orange plan and withdrew his 
forces to the Bataan Peninsula in a skill- 
ful and dangerous double retrograde 
movement, made in two weeks under the 
most difficult circumstances and constant 
pressure. At the same time he pro- 
claimed Manila an open city and trans- 
ferred his headquarters to Corregidor. 
Thus, when Homma, on 2 January, 
reached his objective, the capital city, 
he was able to take it without opposi- 

tion. But his victory was a hollow one. 
The enemy army was still intact and in 
control of the entrance to Manila Bay. 
So long as it maintained its hold on 
Bataan and Corregidor Homma would 
be unable to use the great port of Manila 
or to claim victory in the Philippines. 

South of Luzon, the Japanese had 
made only one important conquest in 
the Philippines when they occupied the 
harbor of Davao in Mindanao, as a base 
for the invasion of Borneo. But the 
American and Philippine forces on that 
island were undefeated. Well-organized 
and led, they still held the airfield at 
Del Monte. In the central Philippines 
the Japanese had as yet made no land- 
ings. There the scattered garrisons on 
Panay, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and other 
islands, strengthened their defenses and 
made plans for the day when the enemy 
would appear off their shores. 

The Siege of Bataan 

In the Japanese scheme of conquest, 
the Philippines occupied only a second- 
ary place and Imperial General Head- 
quarters had not been generous with 
General Homma. All it had given him 
to take the islands, a job that was sched- 
uled to be completed in fifty days, were 



two divisions, the 16th and 48th, two 
tank regiments, an air group, and service 
and supporting troops. One other unit, 
the 65th Brigade, consisting of three 
2-battalion regiments, was to come in 
later to mop up and garrison the islands. 
But Homma was not allowed to keep 
even this force, for Imperial General 
Headquarters, having decided late in 
December to speed up operations in the 
southern area, took from him his best 
unit, the 48th Division, as well as the 
air group. Word of this decision reached 
Homma via Southern Army headquar- 
ters on 2 January, the day he occupied 

Fortunately for the Japanese cause, 
Homma, for reasons entirely unrelated 
to the decision of Imperial General 
Headquarters, had already ordered the 
65th Brigade to the Philippines, three 
weeks earlier than intended. The bri- 
gade, which in the opinion of its com- 
mander was "absolutely unfit for combat 
duty," reached Luzon on New Year's 
Day, just in time to replace the 48th 
Division in the coming battle for Bataan. 1 

Despite this weakening of his forces, 
Homma felt certain of an early victory. 
On the basis of faulty intelligence he 
concluded that resistance would be 
weak, and that the American and Fili- 
pino troops would make their stand 
around Mariveles, near the tip of the 
peninsula, then withdraw to Corregidor. 
Japanese operations on Bataan would 
therefore take the form of a pursuit 

^Sfth Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, p. 3; Ijth Army 
Opns, Japanese Studies in World War II, 1, I, 39, 
60-62, 73—76. Most o£ the material covered in this 
chapter is treated at g reater length in M orton, The 
Fall of the Philippines I chs. XV-XXII.l For the con- 
venience of the researcher, footnote references are to 
the original sources rather than to the author's 
earlier volume. 

rather than an assault against a strongly 
fortified position. Such operations, 
Homma felt, could be safely entrusted 
to the inexperienced and untrained 65th 
Brigade, reinforced with seasoned troops 
of the 16th Division and aided by sup- 
porting artillery and armor. 

General Homma's optimism was en- 
tirely unfounded. Arrayed against him 
on a line extending across the northern 
part of the jungled mountain fastness 
of Bataan were two corps, one led by 
Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright 
and the other by Maj. Gen. George M. 
Parker, Jr. In Wainwright's corps on 
the left (west) were three of the recently- 
inducted Philippine Army divisions, the 
26th Cavalry of Philippine Scouts (Fili- 
pino citizens forming part of the Regu- 
lar Army of the United States) , and 
other troops, for a total of 22,500 men. 
On the right (Manila Bay side) of the 
peninsula, in Parker's corps, were four 
more Philippine Army divisions, a Phil- 
ippine Scout regiment, plus supporting 
troops, all together 25,000 men. To the 
rear were the regular U.S. Army Philip- 
pine Division (composed largely of Phil- 
ippine Scouts) , two battalions of light 
tanks, a 75-mm. SPM group, together 
with corps and USAFFE artillery. The 
southern tip of the peninsula, designated 
the Service Command Area, was de- 
fended by a heterogeneous force com- 
posed of constabulary, Philippine Army 
troops, grounded airmen, bluejackets, 
and marines. 2 Control of the two corps 
and of the elements to the rear was 
retained by General MacArthur's head- 
quarters on Corregidor, with an ad- 
vance echelon on Bataan. 

Despite this considerable force, num- 

2 USAFFE Field Orders 1 and 2, 6 and 7, Jan 42 and 
GO 3, 7 Jan 42, copies in OCMH. 



General Homma Comes Ashore 

bering about 90,000 men, the American 
position was not a strong one. There 
had been little time to build fortifica- 
tions; communications were inadequate, 
and many of the troops were untrained 
and poorly equipped. Food was scarce 
and there was a shortage of supplies of 
all types. Moreover, the main battle 
position was not a continuous line. Sep- 
arating the two corps was the 4,222-foot- 
high Mt. Natib which made physical 
contact and mutual support virtually 

The Japanese opened the battle for 
Bataan on g January with an artillery 
barrage that "shook the northern por- 
tion" of the peninsula, after which the 
infantry moved out to the attack. The 

main force, which attacked first, was 
repulsed in a series of bloody battles 
and was finally forced to shift to the 
west in search of an opening in the 
American lines, while another column 
sought to turn Parker's left flank on 
the slopes of Mt. Natib. Finally, on 
the 15 th, the Japanese found an opening 
and drove through. By the evening of 
the 16th they were in position to out- 
flank the corps. Hastily a counterattack 
was organized with troops from the Phil- 
ippine Division, but to no avail. 3 

Meanwhile the Japanese on the other 
side of the peninsula, traversing the 
jungled height near the center, had cut 

3 6;th Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, apps. $ and 20, 
p. 15. 



behind Wainwright's line on 21 January 
and established a block along the only 
road in the area. Unable to reduce the 
block, the troops in Wainwright's corps 
withdrew, pulling back along the coast. 
At about the same time, 24 January, 
MacArthur ordered a general with- 
drawal to the reserve battle position. 

The first battle was over but Homma 
was still far from victory. He had won 
this round but at such heavy cost that 
the 65th Brigade, in the words of its 
commander, had "reached the extreme 
stages of exhaustion." 4 The American 
and Filipino forces had disengaged suc- 
cessfully and occupied their new line 
across the waist of the peninsula on 26 
January. They had saved Bataan for 
another day. But there was no further 
retreat from this line. "With its occu- 
pation," MacArthur wrote, "all maneu- 
vering possibilities will cease. I intend 
to fight it out to complete destruction." 5 

During the next two weeks Homma 
committed the remainder of the 16th 
Division and, by a series of frontal at- 
tacks combined with amphibious as- 
saults behind the enemy line, sought to 
gain the victory which had thus far 
eluded him. Again he failed, this time 
with such heavy casualties that he had 
to break off the fight and call on Impe- 
rial General Headquarters for reinforce- 
ments. From 6 January to 1 March, 
14th Army had suffered almost 7,000 
casualties, 2,700 killed and over 4,000 
wounded. Between 10,000 and 12,000 
more men were down with malaria, beri- 
beri, and dysentery. So depleted was 
the 14th Army that the American and 
Filipino troops, had they chosen that 

4 65th Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, pp. 33, 38. 
'Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 108, 23 Jan 42, 
AG 381 (11-27-^1 sec. 1) Far East. 

moment to attack, could, in Homma's 
words, have walked to Manila "without 
encountering much resistance on our 
part." 6 

But by this time MacArthur's troops 
were showing the alarming effects of 
reduced rations, lack of quinine, and 
continuous combat. Almost the first 
official action on Bataan had been an 
order cutting the ration in half. This 
meant the Americans would theoreti- 
cally receive 36 ounces of food a day, 
the Filipinos 32. 7 Actually they never 
received even that amount. The ration 
varied from day to day and was based 
solely on the amount of food on hand. 
From an average of about 30 ounces a 
day it decreased steadily until it was 
barely enough to sustain life. Not only 
was the diet inadequate, but it was un- 
balanced as well, deficient in vitamins 
and lacking the minor luxuries which 
might have compensated for its bareness 
and monotony. There was no butter, 
coffee, tea, jam, fresh milk, or vegetables, 
and precious little sugar, fruit, and to- 
bacco. Deprived of the solace of ciga- 
rettes and coffee, the soldier living on 
little more than 20 ounces of food a day 
could be very miserable indeed. 8 

The consequences of the inadequate 
and unbalanced ration and other short- 
ages soon became evident in the high 
incidence of malnutrition and vitamin 
deficiency diseases and a marked de- 
crease in combat efficiency. Signs of 

'United States of America vs. Masaharu Homma, 
pp. 3062-63, testimony of Homma; pp. 2450, 2457, 
2576, testimony of Lt. Gen. Takaji Wachi and Col. 
Yoshio Nakajima, National Archives; 14th Army 
Opns, Japanese Studies in World War II, 1, 1, 1 16. 

'Rad, MacArthur to CG Bataan Service Comd, 5 
Jan 42, AG 430 (25 Dec 41); Inventory of Rations, 
3 Jan 42, AG 430.2 (3 Jan 42) both in Phil Reds. 

"See Rpts of the QM Phil Dept in AG 319.1 (29 
Jan 42) Phil Reds. 



serious muscle waste and depletion of 
fat reserve were plain in the thin bodies 
and hollow cheeks of the hungry men. 
Night blindness, swelling, diarrhea, and 
dysentery became common, and beriberi 
in its incipient stages was almost univer- 
sal among the troops. The men had 
lost the capacity to resist even the most 
minor ailment, and any disease, warned 
the Bataan surgeon, would assume 
epidemic proportions. 

These fears were soon justified in the 
rapid spread of malaria. For a time the 
disease had been kept under control by 
prophylactic doses of quinine, but the 
supply was limited and its use, except 
for those already infected, was discon- 
tinued at the end of February. Within 
a week the number of daily malaria ad- 
missions to the hospitals jumped to 500 
and a month later was approaching the 
fantastic figure of 1,000. Despite every 
expedient it proved impossible to obtain 
a large enough supply of quinine to 
bring the disease under control or per- 
mit its use as a prophylaxis. 9 By the end 
of March the two general hospitals, de- 
signed to accommodate 1,000 patients 
each, had about 8,500 patients, and 
another 4,000 were being treated in a 
provisional hospital. Undetermined 
numbers were hospitalized in their 
units, and all medical installations on 
Bataan were bursting with patients. 10 

The effects of disease and starvation 
upon combat efficiency were disastrous. 
A month after they reached Bataan, the 
men were only about 75 percent effec- 
tive; six weeks later this figure dropped 

* Material on the prevalence of disease can be found 
in AG 440 (26 Jan 4a) and AG 710 (84 Mar 42) Phil 
Reds; Col Wibb E. Cooper, Med Dept Activities in 
the Phil, ann. XIV of USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, 
copy in OCMH. 

10 Cooper, Med Dept Activities, pp. 32—33, 55, 57-61. 

to 25 percent. The condition of the 
troops, wrote an inspecting officer, "was 
utter nightmare." In one regiment the 
men "were just able to fire a rifle out 
of the trench, and no more." 11 

The one great hope that fortified the 
men on Bataan and Corregidor was their 
belief that somehow large reinforce- 
ments and shiploads of food and sup- 
plies would break through the Japanese 
blockade and come to their rescue. This 
belief was based partly on the desperate 
desire to believe it and partly on Mac- 
Arthur's promise in January that "thou- 
sands of troops and hundreds of planes" 
were on the way. 12 President Quezon 
and High Commissioner Sayre had given 
the same promise in public statements 
earlier, based on Roosevelt's broadcast 
of 29 December, which the New York 
Times headlined with, "All aid prom- 
ised. President pledges protection." 
Sustaining the faith of the troops on 
Bataan also was the conviction that their 
country would never abandon them to 
the enemy and that somehow they would 
be rescued. 13 These hopes were badly 
shaken when President Roosevelt, in his 
February 23d Fireside Chat, placed the 
Philippines in their proper perspective 
"in the big picture of the war." His 
listeners on Bataan could find no hope 
for relief in the President's remarks 
about the nature of global warfare, the 
tremendous tasks facing the American 
people, and the volume of production. 
What they needed was food, clothing, 
and medicine, and they needed them im- 

11 Col Harry A. Skerry, Comments on Engineer Hist, 
No. 18; Col Ray M. O'Day, Hist of 21st Div (PA), 
II, 39, both in OCMH. 

"Ltr Order, USAFFE to All Unit Comdrs, 15 Jan 
4.Z, sub: Msg from Gen MacArthur, copy in OCMH. 

la Ltr, MacArthur to Hoover, si Jul 59, OCMH. 
New York Times, December 21, 1941. 



mediately. "Plain for all to see," wrote 
one officer, "was the handwriting on the 
wall, at the end of which the President 
had placed a large and emphatic period. 
The President had — with regret — wiped 
us off the page and closed the book." 14 

Strategy and Logistics 

If the troops on Bataan thought — mis- 
takenly — they had been abandoned, they 
could be sure that they had in General 
MacArthur an eloquent and powerful 
champion to plead their cause in the 
councils of war. Constantly and per- 
sistently, in the strongest terms, he urged 
the President and Chief of Staff on to 
bolder measures and stronger efforts for 
the relief of the Philippine garrison. 
The support of the Philippine Islands, 
he asserted time and again, was the most 
important objective of the Allied cause 
in the Far East and no effort should be 
spared to achieve this end. The arrange- 
ments and plans made for the defense 
of the Malay Barrier and the establish- 
ment of a base in Australia, while con- 
tributing to this cause, did not, Mac- 
Arthur held, materially affect his own 

What MacArthur wanted was a major 
Allied effort in the Southwest Pacific 
that would have as its objective the relief 
of the Philippines. This effort, he be- 
lieved, should take the form of an ad- 
vance, by air and naval forces, from 
Australia through the Netherlands 
Indies and Borneo to Mindanao. Once 
air and naval supremacy had been estab- 
lished, an Army corps could be landed 
on Mindanao, and from there, project- 
ing air and naval forces northward, 

"Col Richard C. Mallonee, Bataan Diary, II, 69, 
copy in OCMH. 

reinforcements could be brought into 
Luzon and the enemy driven from the 
Philippines. "Enemy appears to have 
tendency to become overconfident," he 
wrote, "and time is ripe for brilliant 
thrust with air carriers." 15 

So important were these operations, 
in MacArthur's view, so vital were they 
to the Allied position in the Far East 
and the defense of Allied territory that 
he did not hesitate to urge that the re- 
sources of Great Britain, as well as those 
of the United States, be placed at his 
disposal. After all, he pointed out, the 
British Empire would benefit most from 
these operations. Singapore, Australia, 
and India would be saved and the Brit- 
ish line of communications in the Far 
East made secure. England itself would 
be free from attack during the winter 
months and could safely release forces 
and lend material aid to a cause which 
was so greatly to its benefit. 16 

But this effort, if it was to be under- 
taken, must be made soon, MacArthur 
warned Marshall. Already his food sup- 
ply was low and his munitions, especially 
in antiaircraft ammunition, limited. The 
Corregidor garrison, whose existence 
depended on its vulnerable water and 
power supply, could not hold out indefi- 
nitely. Unsupported, he told the Chief 
of Staff on 1 January, he would be able 
to resist serious attack at most for three 
months. Pending the arrival of the ex- 
peditionary force it would be necessary 
therefore to restore his line of commu- 
nication to the United States "by aggres- 
sive air and naval action," a course he 

16 Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 20, 7 Jan 42, 
AG 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East. See also his mes- 
sages of 27 December and 1 January to the Chiefs of 
Staff, in same file and in WPD 4639-2. 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, Nos. 2 and 3, 1 Jan 
42, WPD 4639-2. 



had urged before and continued to 
urge. 17 

Mac Arthur's pleas for a major Allied 
effort in the Southwest Pacific reached 
Washington at a time when the Arcadia 
Conference was in session and while 
the U.S. and British Chiefs of Staff were 
themselves considering how best to halt 
the Japanese advance. But the sympa- 
thetic response to his messages and the 
assurance that "the President and Prime 
Minister, Colonel Stimson and Colonel 
Knox, the British Chiefs of Staff and our 
corresponding officials" were doing 
everything possible to strengthen Allied 
forces in the Far East could not disguise 
the fact that Washington and London 
did not attach the same importance to 
the defense of the Philippines as Mac- 
Arthur did. "Our great hope," General 
Marshall told him, "is that the rapid 
development of an overwhelming air 
power on the Malay Barrier will cut the 
Japanese communications south of Bor- 
neo and permit an assault on the 
southern Philippines." 18 

The emphasis in such a strategy, as 
MacArthur well knew, was not on the 
drive northward but on holding the 
Malay Barrier and its east and west an- 
chors, Burma and Australia. The sup- 
port of the Philippine garrison and the 
re-establishment of the line of communi- 
cations to Luzon, though included as 
one of the objectives of Allied strategy, 
clearly came after these. MacArthur 
agreed that the Japanese drive south- 
ward must be halted, but believed that 
this objective could best be accomplished 
by holding the Philippines. To him the 

"Ibid.; Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 20, 7 Jan 
42, AG 381 (11-27—41 Gen) Far East. 

,a Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 2 Jan 42, WPD 

islands were "the locus of victory or 
defeat," and if they fell so would the 
Malay Barrier and the entire Asiatic 
continent. This view the Washington 
planners, whose perspective encom- 
passed a war on many fronts, never 

What MacArthur did not know was 
that the Army planners in Washington 
had on the 3d of January submitted a 
study proving that the Philippines could 
not be reinforced and that his plan for 
an offensive northward from Australia 
to Mindanao would constitute "an en- 
tirely unjustifiable diversion of forces 
from the principal theater — the Atlan- 
tic." It would require, they noted, about 
1,500 aircraft of various types, at least 
half of which would have to come from 
other areas, service and construction 
units to build airfields along the line of 
advance, a large logistical organization, 
and the transfer from the Atlantic and 
Mediterranean of 7-9 capital ships, 5-7 
carriers, about 50 destroyers, 60 subma- 
rines, and the necessary auxiliaries. The 
greatest effort that could be justified in 
terms of global strategy, the planners 
stated, was to hold the Malay Barrier 
while projecting operations as far north 
as possible. Since this view was essen- 
tially that already accepted by the Com- 
bined Chiefs, the effect of the Army 
planners' study was to confirm the deci- 
sion already made when ABDACOM 
was established. 19 

The conclusions of the Army plan- 
ners, however valid they were, did not 
affect the determination of the Presi- 
dent, Mr. Stimson, or General Marshall 

'•Memo, Gerow for CofS, 3 Jan 42, sub: Relief of 
Phil, WPD 4639—3. There is no record of formal ap- 
proval of this study. Both Stimson and Marshall 
noted it, but made no comment. 



to send MacArthur all possible aid. That 
program was already under way and 
everything possible was being done in 
Washington to ensure its success. Thus, 
when MacArthur on the 4th, the day 
after the planners had submitted their 
study, suggested, first, that a plan for 
blockade running be developed and put 
into effect immediately; and second, in 
a tart reference to the Navy, that "some 
relief be obtained on use of submarine 
transportation," Marshall took what ac- 
tion he could. Already the funds to 
initiate blockade running had been allo- 
cated, but the program would have to 
await further arrangements in Australia. 
Meanwhile he asked Admiral Hart to 
send MacArthur by submarine the anti- 
aircraft ammunition he needed so badly. 
The response was discouraging. Hart 
replied that he could not spare any of 
his submarines for such a mission and it 
was not until the end of the month, 
after Marshall had enlisted the aid of 
Admiral King, that the submarine was 
dispatched. There was nothing Mac- 
Arthur could do, for Hart's fleet was not 
under his control, but he did not hesi- 
tate to express his feelings. "I urge," 
he wrote Marshall, "steps be taken to 
obtain a more aggressive and resourceful 
handling of naval forces in this area." 20 
In this view he would soon have the 
support of the Dutch. 

But assurances and messages from 
Washington did not get supplies to the 
Philippines. That task was the responsi- 
bility of commanders in Australia and 
the Netherlands Indies, who, beset with 

"Rads. MacArthur to Marshall, No. 9, 4 Jan 4s; 
AG 381 (1 1-27-41 Sec. 1) Far East; Marshall to Brett, 
No. 671, 5 Jan 42; COMINCH to CINCAF, same date; 
MacArthur to Marshall, No. s6; COMINCH to 
CINCAF; Brett to Marshall, No. 485, all dated 9 Jan 
4a and in WPD Msg File. 

problems of their own, had not the same 
sense of urgency as impelled MacArthur 
to insist that failure to reach him with 
supplies would have "monumental" and 
"disastrous" results. This sense of ur- 
gency Marshall undertook to impart to 
these officers after MacArthur had given 
his "professional" assurance that the 
blockade could easily be pierced. To 
Brereton and Brett he dispatched simi- 
lar messages on 17 January calling for 
"comprehensive efforts" to run the block- 
ade. "To insure utmost energy" in carry- 
ing out these efforts, Marshall made ten 
million dollars of the Chief of Staff's 
funds available to Brereton and prom- 
ised more if needed to induce ship's 
masters and their crews to undertake 
the hazardous journey. "Risks will be 
great," he wrote. "Rewards must be 
proportional." At the same time he 
made another million available to Mac- 
Arthur and sent Col. Patrick J. Hurley, 
former Secretary of War and an old 
friend of the Philippine commander, to 
Australia immediately to lend his "ener- 
getic support" to the blockade-running 
program. "Only indomitable determi- 
nation and pertinacity will succeed," 
wrote Marshall, "and success must be 
ours." 21 

Under the impetus of Marshall's ur- 
gent instructions for a comprehensive 
program and the use of "bold and re- 
sourceful men," General Brereton began 
to draw up elaborate and ambitious 
plans. But there was no time for such 
plans and when Marshall learned of 
them he quickly registered his disappro- 

"Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 72, 17 Jan 42; 
Marshall to CG USAFIA, same date, both in AG 381 
(11-87-41 sec. 1) Far East; Marshall to Brett, ABDA 
No. a6, same date, WPD 4560-9; Marshall to Mac- 
Arthur, No. 949, same date, OCS 18136-196. 



val. Action and results were needed," he 
wrote, not plans. 22 

Thus urged, the commanders in Aus- 
tralia concentrated on getting ships and 
supplies, but it was a long, hard job, 
beset with many obstacles, including the 
reluctance of the Dutch and British to 
risk the loss of precious shipping. By 2 
February, despite the high rewards and 
frantic efforts, only five vessels had been 
enlisted in the cause. One was already 
en route to Corregidor with 700 tons of 
rations and ammunition; the other four 
were loading in Brisbane and were 
scheduled to leave in the near future. 
All but one would sail directly for the 
Philippines. The Mormacsun, under or- 
ders from Washington not to go further 
north than the Netherlands Indies, would 
transfer its cargo at a Dutch port to 
smaller vessels for the last leg of the 
journey. 23 

These efforts were satisfactory as far 
as they went but they did not add up to 
the aggressive strategy MacArthur felt 
should be followed in the Far East. 
Early in February he again presented his 
views on this subject in a message to the 
Chief of Staff with the hope that they 
would be shown "to the highest author- 
ity." The message opened with the 
startling statement that the present stra- 
tegy, aimed at building up forces before 
the Japanese advance, was "a fatal mis- 
take on the part of the Democratic 
Allies." The plan to build a base and 
acquire air supremacy in the Southwest 
Pacific, he predicted, would fail and, as 

M Rads, Brereton to TAG, 19 Jan 42; Marshall to 
Brereton, same date, both in AG 381 (11—27-41 sec. 
1) Far East. 

"Rad, Brereton to Marshall, No. 88, 82 Jan 42; 
Barnes to TAG, No. 154, 2 Feb 42, both in AG 381 
fi 1-27-41 sec 2A) Far East. 

a result, the war would be indefinitely 
prolonged. The only way to defeat the 
enemy was to seek combat with him. 
"Counsels of timidity based upon theo- 
ries of safety first," he warned, "will not 
win against such an aggressive and auda- 
cious adversary as Japan." "What the 
Allies ought to do," he asserted, was 
attack the Japanese line of communi- 
cations "stretched over 2,000 miles of 
sea." The argument that naval forces 
for such an attack were not available he 
brushed aside with the observation that 
a great naval victory was not necessary; 
"the threat alone would go far toward 
the desired end." 24 

General Marshall's reply, though sym- 
pathetic, made it perfectly clear that the 
Allies were doing all they could in the 
Pacific. No one denied the advantages 
of an attack against Japan's line of com- 
munication, he pointed out, but neither 
the naval forces nor the bases for such 
an attack were available. Moreover, 
MacArthur's proposal did not take into 
consideration the need to keep open the 
Allied line of communication. The 
course the Allies had adopted, he ex- 
plained, was all that could be done with 
existing forces. Until additional forces 
could be accumulated the Allies had 
little choice but to "limit the hostile 
advance so as to deny him [the enemy] 
free access to land and sea areas that will 
immeasurably strengthen his war-mak- 
ing powers or will be valuable to us 
as jump off positions when we can start 
a general offensive." 25 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 201, 4 Feb 42, 
WDCSA 381 (2—17^2) Phil. This message, as well as 
many others from MacArthur, was forwarded to the 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 8 Feb 42, WDCSA 
381 (2-17^2) Phil. 



On the same day that the Chief of 
Staff dispatched his reply to MacArthur, 
President Quezon, who had moved the 
seat of the Commonwealth Government 
to Corregidor, offered a plan to bring 
hostilities in the Philippines to a close. 
This plan was based on the assumption 
that the Japanese were in the Philippines 
only because the United States was there. 
If the United States Government would 
grant the Philippines their indepen- 
dence immediately and withdraw its 
forces, Quezon explained to President 
Roosevelt, then he would seek to per- 
suade Japan to do the same. If Japan 
agreed, as he thought it would, then he 
would disband the Philippine Army and 
leave his country without fortifications 
of any kind. The major powers could 
then neutralize the Philippines and save 
it from the ravages of a war in which it 
had no real interest. 

Quezon's disquieting proposal, which 
the American High Commissioner sup- 
ported, was accompanied by an estimate 
from General MacArthur painting a 
dark picture of the military situation in 
the Philippines. "So far as the military 
angle is concerned," MacArthur wrote, 
"the problem presents itself as to 
whether the plan of President Quezon 
might offer the best possible solution of 
what is about to be a disastrous debacle." 
He did not believe it would affect the 
ultimate fate of the Philippines; that, 
he thought, would be decided by the 
outcome of the war in other theaters. 
"If the Japanese Government rejects 
President Quezon's proposition," he told 
Marshall, "it would psychologically 
strengthen our hold because of their 
Prime Minister's public statement offer- 
ing independence. If it accepts it, we 
lose no military advantage because we 

would still secure at least equal delay." 26 
The reaction from Washington to 
Quezon's proposal was prompt and em- 
phatic. President Roosevelt repudiated 
the scheme outright and declared, in a 
personal message to Quezon, that the 
American Government would never 
agree to such a solution to the war in 
the Philippines. But he softened the 
blow by pledging that "so long as the 
flag of the United States flies on Filipino 
Soil ... it would be defended by our 
own men to the death." To MacArthur 
the President sent strict instructions to 
continue the fight without surrender of 
American troops "so long as there re- 
mains any possibility of resistance." 27 
There was no misunderstanding the 
meaning and tone of this message. 

Both Quezon and MacArthur ac- 
cepted the President's decision without 
question. Quezon wrote that he fully 
appreciated the President's position and 
would abide by the decision. Mac- 
Arthur, in his reply, explained that his 
message had been misunderstood, that 
he never had any intention of surrender- 
ing and would fight "to destruction" on 
Bataan and Corregidor. 28 

This matter was hardly settled when 
events in the Pacific, gloomy at best, 
took a turn for the worse. Already the 
Japanese had taken Malaya, Borneo, and 
the Celebes, and on 15 February Singa- 
pore fell. Its loss provided MacArthur 
with the occasion for still another plea 

OT Rads, Ft, Mills to Marshall, Nos. 226 and 227, 8 
Feb 42, CofS Phil Sit File. The first part of the mes- 
sage is addressed to Roosevelt and signed Quezon; 
the second to Marshall signed MacArthur. Ltr, Mac- 
Arthur to Hoover, 21 Jul 59, OCMH. 

s *Rad, Roosevelt to MacArthur for Quezon, No. 
1029, 9 Feb 42, CofS Phil Sit File. 

ffl Rads, MacArthur to Roosevelt, No. 252, 11 Feb 
4a; Quezon to Roosevelt, No. 262, 12 Feb 42, both in 
OPD Exec Files. 



for an attack against the Japanese line 
of communications. "The opportuni- 
ties still exist for a complete reversal of 
the situation," he declared with charac- 
teristic optimism. "It will soon, how- 
ever, be too late for such a movement." 29 

To the planners in Washington and 
the officers of USAFIA and ABDACOM, 
the loss of Singapore and the rapid Japa- 
nese advance into the Netherlands Indies 
was hardly the occasion for attack. To 
them it forecast the invasion of Sumatra 
and Java and an end to blockade-run- 
ning. Pat Hurley, who had arrived in 
Australia on 8 February, reported from 
Java on the 17th that "movements are 
progressing as expeditiously as can be 
expected under existing condition." But 
he also warned that the sea routes north 
of Australia were becoming increasingly 
hazardous. A few days later he told the 
Chief of Staff that there were "almost 
insuperable difficulties" in getting 
supplies to MacArthur. 30 

The former Secretary of War did not 
exaggerate. Despite the elaborate prep- 
arations and large funds, the five vessels 
reported on 2 February were all that 
ever joined the blockade-running pro- 
gram. Of these only three, the Coast 
Farmer, Dona Nati, and Anhui, got 
through. The first, a 3,000-ton Army 
freighter with a speed of 10 knots, left 
Australia on 4 February and put in at a 
Mindanao port fifteen days later. The 
other twtf left later and arrived at Cebu 
in mid-March. All together, they 
brought in more than 10,000 tons of 
rations, 4,000 rounds of small arms am- 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 297, 16 Feb 42, 
WDCSA 381 (2-17-42) Phil. 

""Rads, Hurley to Marshall, ABDACOM No. 2, 17 
Feb 42, AG 381 (11-27—41 sec. 2B) Far East; 21 Feb 
42, OPD 381 SWPA, sec. 1 case 21. 

munition, 8,000 rounds of 81-mm. am- 
munition, and miscellaneous medical, 
signal, and engineer supplies. 31 

But the delivery of these supplies left 
them far from the battlefield of Bataan. 
From Mindanao and Cebu they still had 
to be transported northward through 
the inland seas to Manila Bay. For this 
leg of the journey, fast interisland motor 
ships with a capacity of 300 to 1,000 
tons were used. Cebu was the headquar- 
ters for these vessels and from there 
thousands of tons went northward. The 
Legaspi was the first to make the jour- 
ney safely, arriving at Corregidor on 22 
January with a cargo of rice and other 
food. Two other vessels, the Princessa 
and Elcano, performed the same feat in 
February, the latter carrying rations un- 
loaded from the Coast Farmer. Three 
other vessels carrying the remainder of 
that ship's cargo were sunk as were 
others carrying the supplies brought in 
by the Dona Nati and Anhui. Of the 
10,000 tons of rations that had reached 
the Philippines, only about 1,000 tons — 
a 4-day supply for the 100,000 soldiers 
and civilians on Bataan — ever reached 
Manila Bay. 32 

Before the end of February it was 
already evident that the blockade-run- 
ning program from Australia was a fail- 
ure, but it was not until the Japanese 
landed in Java that the officers in charge 
of the program admitted their inability 
to supply the Philippines. This admis- 
sion came to General Marshall in a joint 
message from Brett and Hurley recom- 

"Maj Gen Julian F. Barnes, Rpt of Orgn of 
USAFIA; Maj Richard M. Leighton and Elizabeth 
Bingham. Development of U.S. Supply Base in Aus- 
tralia, both in OCMH. 

"Rpt of QM Opns in Phil Campaign, ann. of 
USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, pp. 29-40, 69-70, and 
app. A, Rpt of Opns, Cebu Depot, OCMH. 



mending that the program be aban- 
doned and that the Philippines be sup- 
plied directly from the United States via 
Hawaii "through open sea areas in 
which the chance of reaching destina- 
tion is much greater than through nar- 
row channels between island and block- 
ade areas of the Southwest Pacific." 33 
The Brett-Hurley proposal was a 
sound one; it had already been made by 
Mac Arthur who, on 22 February had 
expressed strong dissatisfaction with the 
efforts being made in Australia. The 
program, he had asserted, should be con- 
trolled from Washington and other 
routes, including that across the central 
Pacific from Hawaii, be utilized. "If it 
is left as a subsidiary effort," he told 
Marshall, "it will never be accom- 
plished." 34 Immediately the supply ex- 
perts in the War Department, on the 
basis of the President's request, made a 
quick survey of the problem. Their 
conclusion was that direct supply of the 
Philippines from the United States by 
way of Hawaii was "practical and desir- 
able." Six World War I destroyers, they 
pointed out, could be converted to cargo 
vessels for this purpose. The plan was 
quickly approved. 35 

as Rad, Hurley and Brett for Marshall, 483, 4 Mar 
42, AG 381 (11—87^1 sec. 3) Far East. 

* 4 Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, 344, sa Feb 4s, 
WPD Ready Ref File, Phil. 

"Memos, Somervell for Marshall, aa Feb 4a, sub: 
Supply of U.S. Forces in Phil, OCS 18136-258; Mar- 
shall for Roosevelt, a4 Feb 42, no sub, WPD 4560-36, 
Marshall for Roosevelt, 28 Feb 4a; sub: Blockade 
Runners, OCS 18136-268. Vice Adm. Bernhard H. 
Bieri (ret.), then one of the naval planners, recalled 
later that he never heard of this plan to use World 
War I destroyers and doubted that it had been sub- 
mitted to the Navy. Anyone familiar with the steam- 
ing characteristics of these 1,000-ton destroyers and 
with the distances in the Pacific, he wrote, "would 
have crossed it out as a practical operation." Ltr, 
Bieri to Hoover, 17 Jul 59, OCMH. 

The schedule established under the 
new program called for six sailings, the 
first vessel to leave New Orleans on 28 
February, the last on 22 March. But 
there were delays in assembling the car- 
goes, selecting the route, and finding 
gun crews, and it was not until 2 March 
that the first ship sailed. The others fol- 
lowed later in the month, two sailing 
from New Orleans through the Panama 
Canal to Los Angeles and then Hono- 
lulu, the others directly from the west 
coast. But they had left too late and 
none ever reached their destination. 36 

Submarines and aircraft as well as 
surface vessels were utilized in the des- 
perate attempt to supply the beleaguered 
garrison. The underwater craft could 
carry rations and ammunition directly 
to Corregidor but in such limited 
amounts that the ten trips made netted 
a total of only 53 tons of food (less than 
one meal for the men on Bataan) , 3,500 
rounds of badly needed 3-inch antiair- 
craft ammunition, over 1,000,000 rounds 
of .50 and .30-caliber ammunition, and 
about 30,000 gallons of diesel oil for 
the power plant on Corregidor. The 
aircraft, with more limited space, were 
used largely for medical supplies. They 
succeeded in bringing their cargoes as far 
as Del Monte in Mindanao, but most of 
the quinine and morphine so critically 
needed on Bataan remained there. 37 

By mid-March the opportunity to 
bring supplies to Bataan and Corregi- 
dor had been lost. The Japanese were 
in control of the air and sea routes and 

"Messages dealing with these vessels can be found 
in AG 384.3 GHQ SWPA and in the Hist Br, OCT, 
SWPA, Phil Shipping. 

"Rpt, CTF 51 to CINCSWPA, 15 May 4a, sub: 
Submarine Relief Activities, ser. FF6-4, A 16-3, copy 
in OCMH; Ltr, GHQ SWPA to CG US. Air Service, 
14 May 4a, sub: Phil Relief Shipments, AG 384.3M. 



had blocked the passage between Min- 
danao and the Visayas to Manila Bay. 
The total effort and large sums ex- 
pended by that time had produced neg- 
ligible results in terms of tonnages 
delivered to the troops. But it was an 
effort that had to be made, no matter 
how high the cost or slim the chance 
of success. The American people owed 
at least that much to the gallant 
Philippine garrison. 


From the beginning there was little 
doubt in Washington that the Philip- 
pine garrison was doomed. After the 
Japanese victory in Malaya and in the 
Netherlands Indies, the outcome in the 
Philippines was certain. It was only a 
question of time and there were many 
who thought the battle would be over 
very soon. But if the garrison was 
doomed, what would happen to General 
MacArthur? Was he to be allowed to 
fall into Japanese hands, lost forever to 
the Allied cause? The answer was self- 
evident. MacArthur's services were too 
valuable to be sacrificed in a hopeless 
cause and he must be rescued to lead 
other forces in the war against Japan. 

There were difficulties to this solu- 
tion. A command commensurate with 
his rank and seniority must be found for 
him. The timing and circumstances of 
his departure must be arranged with 
great care to avoid the appearance of 
abandoning the Filipinos to whom he 
was the symbol of resistance. And Mac- 
Arthur himself might show an under- 
standable reluctance to leave his troops 
in the midst of battle. If he was ordered 
out, Colonel Hurley said, it would have 
to be by the President and in such a way 

that his reputation, "his honor and his 
record as a soldier," would not be 
compromised. 88 

The first reference to this matter came 
on 4 February when General Marshall, 
undoubtedly at the direction of the 
President, mentioned to MacArthur the 
possibility of his transfer to another com- 
mand should Bataan fall, leaving only 
Corregidor in American hands. 39 "Under 
these conditions," he told MacArthur, 
"the need for your services there might 
well be less pressing than at other points 
in the Far East." There were, Marshall 
explained, two possibilities. One was for 
MacArthur to go to Mindanao to direct 
guerrilla operations and to await the 
supplies which would make a counter- 
attack possible. The other was to go 
directly to Australia and there resume 
command of all U.S. Army forces in the 
Far East. No decision had yet been made 
on his future employment, Marshall 
went on, and before one was he wanted 
the confidential views of the Philippine 
commander. "It is to be understood," 
he concluded, "that in case your with- 
drawal from immediate leadership of 
your beleaguered force is to be carried 
out it will be by direct order of the 
President to you." 40 

Whatever MacArthur thought about 
this proposal he kept his own counsel 

"Memo, Hurley for Marshall, 21 Feb 42, OPD 381 
SWPA, sec. 1, case 21. 

"Rear Adm. Charles A. Moore, one of the Navy 
planners in February 1942, served on the panel that 
reviewed the present manuscript before publication. 
At that time, July 1959, he recalled that on several 
occasions he had mentioned to Secretary of State 
Cordell Hull the necessity for getting MacArthur out 
of the Philippines, and that it was Hull who finally 
went to the President with this suggestion. Notes of 
Panel Meeting, 17 July 1959. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 4 Feb 42, WDCSA 
37°-5 (3-!7-4 2 ) ph il- 



and carefully avoided the subject in the 
days that followed. But he did say to 
the President, a week later and in another 
connection, that he and his family — his 
wife and young son were still on Cor- 
regidor with him — would "share the fate 
of the garrison." 41 Marshall picked up 
this statement and a few days later, in a 
message dealing with the need for antiair- 
craft ammunition, urged MacArthur to 
send his family to safety for his next as- 
signment might separate them "under 
circumstances of greatly increased peril" 
and "poignant embarrassment." Mac- 
Arthur answered the inquiry about am- 
munition but pointedly omitted any 
reference to the personal aspects of 
Marshall's message. 42 

Nothing further was said about the 
matter for another week, though it must 
have been discussed more than once at 
the White House where MacArthur's 
worth was rated by one officer as the 
equivalent of five Army corps. Finally, 
on 21 February, when it was already 
evident that ABDACOM was doomed 
and that a new command would have to 
be established in the Southwest Pacific, 
MacArthur received word that the Presi- 
dent had tentatively decided to order 
him to Mindanao, but was not "suffi- 
ciently informed as to the situation and 
circumstances to be certain that the 
proposal meets the actual situation." 43 

The next day, without waiting for a 
reply from Corregidor, the President 
made his decision and ordered Mac- 

41 Rad, MacArthur to Roosevelt, No. 252, u Feb 42, 
OPD Exec Files. 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, 14 Feb 42; Mac- 
Arthur to Marshall, 15 Feb 42, both in WDCSA 
370.05 (3-17-42) Phil. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 21 Feh 42, WDCSA 
370.05 (3—17—42) Phil; Eisenhower Personal Note- 
book, entry of 23 Feb 42, copy in OCMH. 

Arthur to leave for Australia as soon as 
possible, stopping at Mindanao only long 
enough "to insure a prolonged defense." 
On his arrival in Australia he would 
assume command of a new theater of 
operations in the Southwest Pacific, ar- 
rangements for which were then in 
progress. So urgent was this new assign- 
ment that he was to make ready imme- 
diately and not to "delay in Mindanao" 
longer than a week. Washington would 
provide the transportation. 44 

MacArthur's first reaction was to refuse 
the assignment and remain with his men. 
But after consultation with the senior 
members of his staff, who pointed out 
that he could do more for the Philippine 
garrison in Australia than on Corregi- 
dor, he decided to accept. 49 . He did not, 
however, accept the injunction to leave 
immediately. Pointing out that his 
abrupt departure might have an adverse 
effect on morale, he asked for permission 
to delay his departure until, as he put it, 
the "psychological time" presented it- 
self. "Please be guided by me in this 
matter," he urged the President. "I 
know the situation here in the Philip- 
pines and unless the right moment is 
chosen for this delicate operation, a sud- 
den collapse might occur." This permis- 
sion was readily granted as was authority 
to call on the Army and Navy command- 
ers in Australia for the transportation 
he would require. 46 

■"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 1078, 22 Feb 
42, OofS folder entitled MacArthur's Move to Aus- 

■"Frazier Hunt, MacArthur and the War Against 
Japan (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944), 
p. 64. In this connection, see Jonathan M. Wain- 
wright, General Wainrvright's Story (New York: 
Doubleday and Company, 1545), pp. 1-5. 

*"Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 358, 24 Feb 
42; Marshall to MacArthur, No. 1087, 25 Feb 42, both 
in WDCSA 370.05 (3-17-42) Phil. 



The "psychological time" arrived in 
the second week of March. It was then 
that MacArthur judged the situation on 
Bataan stable enough for him to leave 
without risking "a sudden collapse." 
Arrangements for transportation were 
quickly made and the officers to accom- 
pany him and his family carefully se- 
lected. On the 1 ith all was ready and as 
darkness settled over Manila Bay, Mac- 
Arthur stepped into the first of the four 
PT boats that would take him and the 
rest of the group, all together twenty-one 
persons, to Mindanao. 47 

The trip to Mindanao took two nights. 
On the first the group reached a small 
uninhabited island in the central Philip- 
pines (Cuyo Island) . The small craft 
had broken formation during the night 
and became separated, one of them 
dumping its spare fuel when it mistook 
another PT boat for an enemy vessel. 
The next night the group continued 
south in the three remaining vessels, 
reaching Mindanao at daybreak. There 
they were met by Maj. Gen. William F. 
Sharp, commander of the Mindanao 
Force, and driven to Del Monte airfield 
to board the three B-17's which should 
have been waiting there to take them to 
Australia. But there was only one on 
the airfield and MacArthur considered 
that unfit for passengers. Incensed, he 
dispatched two messages, one to General 
Brett in Australia asking for other planes 
immediately and the other to General 
Marshall calling for "the best three planes 
in the United States or Hawaii" with 
veteran crews. "To attempt such a des- 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, 6 Mar 42, WDCSA 
370.05 (2-17-42) Phil; Brett to Marshall, No. 760, 
19 Mar 42, AG 371 (3—19-42); Rear Adm Francis W. 
Rockwell, Rpt on Gen MacArthur's Evacuation, 
Office GNO, Naval Hist Div. 

perate and important trip with inade- 
quate equipment," he wrote, "would 
amount to consigning the whole party to 
death and I could not accept such a 
responsibility." 48 

Three B-17's were dispatched from 
Australia immediately. Two of them 
reached Del Monte on the night of the 
16th, the other soon after. That night 
the entire group took off and arrived at 
Darwin at 0900 the next morning. From 
there MacArthur proceeded to Mel- 
bourne, where his arrival was greeted 
with wild enthusiasm by the Australians. 
He had made the hazardous journey, 
"undoubtedly unique in military annals 1 ' 
he told General Marshall, in safety, but 
it would be more than two and a half 
years before he would redeem his pledge 
to return to the Philippines. 49 

The departure of General MacArthur 
had no immediate effect on operations in 
the Philippines, but it resulted in a com- 
plete change in the top command in the 
islands. This change was not Mac- 
Arthur's doing. He fully intended to 
retain his control of the forces in the 
Philippines as commander of USAFFE 
from his new headquarters 4,000 miles 
away. The headquarters itself as well as 
its most important staff officers he took 
to Australia with him. But he left be- 
hind an advance echelon and it was 
through this small staff headed by his 
G-4, Col. Lewis C. Beebe, whom he des- 
ignated deputy chief of staff of USAAFE 
and recommended for promotion, that 
he intended to exercise his control. 
Beebe's main task would be to get sup- 
plies for Corregidor and Bataan; the di- 

w Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 482, 14 Mar 42, 
WDCSA 370.05 (2-17-42) Phil. 

46 Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 5, 21 Mar 42, 
OPD Exec Files. 



General MacArthur With General 
Hurley after arriving in Australia. 

rection of operations would be handled 
in MacArthur's own headquarters. 50 

MacArthur realized full well the dis- 
advantages of exercising command so far 
from the battlefield. These he sought to 
overcome by organizing his forces into 
four major commands and giving to 
each greater control over its operations. 
For the troops on Bataan, and those still 
holding out in the mountains of Luzon, 
he established the Luzon Force and 
named General Wainwright as its com- 
mander. Wainwright's old job as I 
Corps commander was given to Maj. 

M Rpt of Harbor Defense of Manila Bay, ann. VIII 
of USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, p. 42. 

Gen. Albert M. Jones. Thus, for the 
first time in the campaign the fighting 
on Bataan came under a separate com- 
mand, which was, in effect, an army 
headquarters directing the operations of 
two corps. Previously this direction had 
been provided by USAFFE. 51 

The task of holding Corregidor until 
his return, MacArthur assigned to Maj. 
Gen. George F. Moore, commander of 
the Harbor Defense of Manila Bay. His 
last instructions to Moore were to set 
aside enough food to maintain 20,000 
men on half-rations until 30 June 1942 
in the expectation that if Bataan fell the 
Philippine Division would be brought 
to Corregidor to make a last stand there. 
When he could hold out no longer, 
MacArthur told him, he was to destroy 
Corregidor's formidable armament so 
that it could not be used against the 
Americans when they returned. 52 

The other two commands MacArthur 
left behind included the remaining 
forces in the Philippines. Previously 
these forces had been organized into the 
composite Visayan-Mindanao Force 
under General Sharp. On 4 March, 
MacArthur split this command and 
created a separate Visayan Force under 
Brig. Gen. Bradford C. Chynoweth. 
Sharp remained in command of Min- 
danao, the only island south of Luzon on 
which a major Japanese force had 
landed. 53 This move was probably de- 
signed to permit General Sharp to 
devote all his energies to the defense of 
Mindanao, the base from which Mac- 
Arthur still hoped to mount a counter- 
offensive against the Japanese. 

But careful as he had been in making 

51 Wainwright, General Wainwright's Story, p. 2. 
52 Rpt of Harbor Defense, pp. 33, 42ft. 
"USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, p. 55. 



these arrangements (to go into effect the 
day after his departure) , and briefing 
the force commanders and new deputy 
chief of staff, MacArthur neglected one 
thing — to inform the War Department. 
Whatever the reasons, the result was 
utter confusion. The War Department 
assumed that Wainwright, the senior 
officer in the islands, was in command of 
all forces in the Philippines as Mac- 
Arthur had been, and addressed him as 
such. But the messages, intended for 
Wainwright and marked for the com- 
mander in the Philippines came to Beebe 
who had no recourse but to refer them to 
MacArthur, then en route to Australia. 
Beebe's position was an embarrassing 
one and he urged his chief repeatedly to 
clear up the matter with Washington. 
But to no avail. MacArthur remained 
silent and the War Department 
uninformed. 54 

Events finally overwhelmed General 
Beebe. On the 20th came messages from 
the President and Chief of Staff, address- 
ing Wainwright as commander in the 
Philippines and telling him of his pro- 
motion to lieutenant general. No con- 
fusion was possible. "Upon the 
departure of General MacArthur," wrote 
Marshall, "you become commander of 
U.S. forces in the Philippines." 58 Beebe 
had no choice but to turn over the mes- 
sages to Wainwright, who, next morning, 
formally assumed command of U.S. 
Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) , the 
name of his new headquarters, and des- 
ignated Beebe his chief of staff. Like 

M Rad, Marshal] to USAFIA, No. 740, 18 Mar 42, 
OPD 381, Phil, sec i, case 13. The correspondence 
between Beebe and MacArthur is filed in AG 311.23 
(4 Feb 42) GHQ SWPA. 

"Rads, Roosevelt to CG USAFFE, No. 1198; Mar- 
shall to Wainwright, No. 1204, both dated 19 Mar 
42, and No. 1203, 20 Mar 42, OPD Exec Files. 

MacArthur, he commanded the naval 
forces as well as those of the Army, and 
was therefore a joint commander. 56 

It was only when MacArthur learned 
of Wainwright's assumption of command 
on the 21st that he informed the War 
Department of his own arrangements. 
To Marshall these seemed unsatisfactory 
for a variety of reasons, and he told the 
President so. Wainwright, he felt, should 
continue in command. The President 
accepted this advice and MacArthur was 
advised that unless he had strenuous 
objections, Wainwright would retain his 
new post. 57 MacArthur made no objec- 
tions. He understood thoroughly Mar- 
shall's difficulties; he said, and would 
accommodate himself to the arrange- 
ments already made. "Heartily in accord 
with Wainwright's promotion to lieuten- 
ant general," he radioed, "His assign- 
ment to Philippine command is 
appropriate." 58 

Thus ended the uncertainty and con- 
fusion. Wainwright was now confirmed 
as the commander of all forces in the Phil- 
ippine Islands with the large authority 
and heavy responsibilities formerly pos- 
sessed by General MacArthur. But he 
was not independent of his former com- 
mander, for MacArthur, though not yet 
officially appointed to his new office, had 
acquired even greater responsibilities 
than before and command over an area 
stretching from Melbourne to Manila. 

M MacArthur had acquired this control on 30 Jan- 
uary 1942. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 30 Jan 42, 
WPD 325>-75- 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 3, 21 Mar 42, 
AG 311.23 (4 Feb 42) GHQ SWPA; Memo, Marshall 
for Pres, 22 Mar 42, sub: Comd in Phil; Rad, Mar- 
shall to MacArthur, No. 810, 22 Mar 42, both in OPD 
Exec Files. 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 19, 24 Mar 42, 
AG 311.23 (4 Feb 42) GHQ SWPA. 


Australia and the Line of Communication 

Logistics comprises the means and arrangements which work out the 
plans of strategy and tactics. 

Baron de Jomini, The Art of War 

When in December the War Depart- 
ment established in Australia the com- 
mand known as USAFIA it had no 
intention of using its ground forces to 
defend that subcontinent or of creating 
a theater of operations. All it wanted to 
do was to provide a base from which to 
supply the Philippines. That purpose 
was soon enlarged to include the support 
of ABDACOM, but not to the extent of 
committing large ground forces. The 
American contribution in that area, 
General Marshall told Brett before he 
assumed command of USAFIA, was to 
be "predominantly air, with other ele- 
ments limited to those necessary for 
efficient air operation and the security 
of the bases." 1 

The advance of the Japanese into the 
Bismarck Archipelago, New Guinea, and 
the Solomons, combined with their suc- 
cess along the Malay Barrier in Decem- 
ber and January, brought into sharp 
relief the danger to Australia and the 
necessity of enlarging its defenses. This 
task was assumed, somewhat reluctantly, 
by the United States, and with it went 
the additional burden of defending the 

'Rad, Marshall to Brett, No. 41, 25 Dec 41, WPD 

islands stretching across the South Pa- 
cific — the life line to Australia. The 
results, largely unforseen and never antic- 
ipated in prewar plans, were to have a 
profound effect on the war in the Pacific. 

The Northeast Area 

North of Australia, "like a prehistoric 
monster, half bird and half reptile," 2 
lies New Guinea, separating Indonesia 
to the west from the islands of Melanesia 
to the east. The eastern half of New 
Guinea (except for the Papuan Penin- 
sula) , with the islands of the Bismarck 
Archipelago — New Britain, New Ireland, 
and the Admiralties — and those of the 
northern Solomons — Buka and Bougain- 
ville — compose the Australian Mandated 
Territory. The Papuan Peninsula, which 
formed the tail of the New Guinea mon- 
ster, was Australian colonial territory. 
To the east of Papua lay the southern 
Solomons, constituting a British colony. 

The strategic significance of the inac- 
cessible and inhospitable region compris- 

5 Samuel Eliot Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks 
Barrier, 22 July 1942 — 1 May 1944, vol. VI, "History 
of United States Naval Operations in World War II" 
(Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1957), p. 27. 



ing the southeast portion of New Guinea 
and the Solomons lay in the fact that its 
straits and seas and its isolated com- 
munities provided a double path to the 
important east coast of Australia and 
the line of communications to the United 
States. Both paths began at the Bismarck 
Archipelago. The western route led 
along the New Guinea coast, from Lae 
and Salumaua to the tip of the Papuan 
Peninsula, and then through the Coral 
Sea to the developed and industrialized 
east coast of Australia. The second route 
extended from the Bismarck Archipelago 
in a southeasterly direction through the 
Solomons to the New Hebrides, New 
Caledonia, the Fij is, and the island chain 
stretching eastward to Hawaii. Far to 
the south lay New Zealand, like Aus- 
tralia a British Dominion and a vital link 
in the imperial system. 

At the apex of these two routes, on 
the island of New Britain, lay Rabaul, 
capital of the Australian Mandated Ter- 
ritory and key to the defense of the 
Northeast Area. With its first-rate har- 
bor and airfield sites, Rabaul was po- 
tentially the finest base in the region for 
an enemy advance along either or both 
routes. Conversely it could be used as a 
springboard from which to attack with 
air or naval forces the Japanese strong- 
hold at Truk, which lay only 640 miles 
to the north, and to drive in the right 
flank of the Japanese position in the 
Central Pacific. The other key Allied 
base in the Northeast Area was Port 
Moresby, which faced northeastern Aus- 
tralia across the Gulf of Papua and 
Torres Strait. To its rear, providing a 
measure of security, lay the towering 
Owen Stanley range. 

With their limited forces, many of 
which were serving in the Middle East 

and elsewhere, the Australians could do 
no more than place token garrisons in 
the Northeast Area. At Port Moresby 
was a brigade group of about 3,000 men, 
a handful of planes, and some artillery. 
The rest of New Guinea was defended 
by a local militia called the New Guinea 
Volunteer Reserve, while Rabaul was 
garrisoned by a mixed force numbering 
about 1,500 men. 3 

The Japanese had no plan to invade 
Australia when they went to war, but 
they recognized fully the importance of 
Rabaul and the Bismarck Archipelago 
as a base for offensive operations and as 
an outpost for the defense of Truk and 
their own line of communications. In 
their plans, therefore, they provided for 
the "seizure of strategic points in the 
Bismarck Archipelago."* This task was 
to be accomplished after the occupation 
of Guam and by the same force which 
took that lonely American outpost — a 
joint force consisting of the Army's 
South Seas Detachment and the Navy's 
South Seas Force. 

Vice Adm. Shigeyoshi Inouye, 4 th 
Fleet commander, began making his 
plans for an advance into the Bismarck 
Archipelago immediately after the occu- 
pation of Guam on 10 December. It was 
not until 4 January, however, that Maj. 
General Tomitaro Horii, commander of 
the South Seas Detachment, was told by 
Imperial General Headquarters to make 

'Dudley McCarthy, Southwest Pacific Area — First 
Year: Kokoda to Wau (Canberra: Australian War 
Memorial, 1959), ch. II; Samuel Milner, Victory in 
WAR II (Washington, iQ57), |ch. lT| USSBS, The 
Allied Campaign Against Rabaul (Washington, 
1946), p. 6. 

4 Army-Navy Central Agreement, Nov 1941, in 
USSBS, The Campaigns 0/ the Pacific War, app. 12. 



ready for the invasion of Rabaul, to be 
undertaken around the middle of the 
month. Inouye and Horii, who was di- 
rectly under the control of Imperial 
General Headquarters, quickly made ar- 
rangements for the coming operations. 
The South Seas Detachment would take 
Rabaul; the South Seas Force of the 4th 
Fleet, Kavieng in New Ireland. D-day 
was set for 23 January. With a full ap- 
preciation of the importance of Rabaul 
to the Allies, the Japanese anticipated a 
naval reaction, either from Australia or 
Hawaii, and took every precaution to 
meet such a contingency. But they had 
an accurate knowledge of the defenses of 
Rabaul and Kavieng and did not foresee 
any difficulty in overcoming either gar- 
rison. Nevertheless they made their 
plans carefully, reconnoitered thor- 
oughly, and began softening up the 
target three weeks before the invasion 
date. 5 

On 14 January the South Seas Detach- 
ment, a heavily reinforced regimental 
combat team numbering about 5,000 
men, left Guam escorted by units of the 
4th Fleet. Additional protection was 
furnished by three carriers and support- 
ing warships detached from the Pearl 
Harbor force and led by Admiral 
Nagumo himself; a scouting force of 
four heavy cruisers; and a separate sub- 
marine force of six large underwater 
craft. At dawn of the 20th and again on 
the 21st, Nagumo sent his carrier planes 
against Rabaul and nearby points along 
the New Guinea coast to complete the 

'This account of the planning and seizure of 
Rabaul and Kavieng is based on Hist of the South 
Seas Detachment, Japanese Studies in World War II, 
36; Japanese Opns in SWPA, series II, ch. V; South- 
east Area Air Opns and Southeast Area Naval Opns, 
Japanese Studies in World War II, 38 and 48. 

destruction begun on the 4th by Truk- 
based bombers. Then, while the carriers 
and cruisers stood off to the north to 
repel a counterattack and the submarines 
took up positions before St. George's 
Channel between New Britain and New 
Ireland, the convoys moved toward the 
target. An hour before midnight of the 
2 2d the invasion force hove to in Rabaul 

The weeks of bombing had accom- 
plished their purpose and Rabaul was 
virtually without air or coastal defenses 
when Horii took his South Seas Detach- 
ment ashore in the early hours of the 
23d. The Australians put up only a 
nominal defense. Hopelessly outnum- 
bered and outgunned, they retreated 
into the hills and jungle behind the 
town. Four hundred men of the garrison 
made good their escape; the rest were 
captured or- killed. By noon the Japa- 
nese were in control of Rabaul. 6 

Meanwhile, the force designated for 
the occupation of Kavieng, two compa- 
nies of special naval landing troops, had 
left Truk on the 20th and under separate 
escort sailed directly to New Ireland. On 
the morning of the 23d this force landed 
at Kavieng without opposition, the de- 
fenders having been captured as they 
sought to make their escape in small 
boats. Thus, in a few hours, with almost 
no casualties, the Japanese had gained 
control of the strategic Bismarck Archi- 
pelago and uncovered the outer defenses 
of the Northeast Area. 

In the weeks that followed the Japa- 
nese consolidated their hold on the area 
and began to convert Rabaul into a 
formidable base. Mopping-up operations 

'For an account of the Rabaul operation, see Wig- 
more, The Japanese Thrust, ch. XVIII. 



were completed by the end of the month 
and troops posted on adjacent islands to 
establish an outer ring of defense. In the 
invasion convoy had been a large num- 
ber of construction troops and these 
were put to work immediately to repair 
and improve existing airfields, build new 
ones, and construct naval facilities. On 
30 January 9 Zeros from Truk moved to 
Rabaul, and soon after 20 medium 
bombers landed at the Vinakauan air- 
field outside the town. By the end of 
February an entire air group — 48 me- 
dium bombers, a similar number of 
fighters, and 12 flying boats — was based 
at Rabaul. 7 

The fall of Rabaul alarmed the Aus- 
tralians as nothing else had. General 
Wavell's ABDACOM still provided some 
measure of protection against invasion 
from the northwest, but the Northeast 
Area was now virtually unprotected. 
This possibility had been foreseen when 
the ABDA area was created and the 
British had then suggested that the U.S. 
Pacific Fleet assume responsibility for 
the defense of the northeast approaches to 
Australia and for the line of communi- 
cation. Still reeling from the blow at 
Pearl Harbor, the Navy refused this ad- 
ditional burden, but Admiral King had 
on 1 January directed his planners to 
study the problem. The result was a 
recommendation to establish the ANZAC 
area envisaged a year before in ABC-i, 
but to enlarge it on the north and east to 
include the Fijis, New Hebrides, and 
New Caledonia, Air and naval forces in 
this area would be supplied by Australia 
and New Zealand, assisted by the United 
States, and would be under the direction 

'USSBS, The Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, 
pp. 6-7, 1 l-i 2. 

of an American flag officer responsible to 
the Commander in Chief of the Pacific 
Fleet. 8 

This proposal, as finally amended by 
Admiral King and the British First Sea 
Lord, Admiral Pound, was submitted to 
the Australian Government on 8 Janu- 
ary. For reasons that are not clear, the 
Australians, though extremely concerned 
over the defense of the Northeast Area, 
took no action for two weeks. Finally, 
on 23 January, the day the Japanese took 
Rabaul, the Australian Prime Minister, 
John Curtin, agreed to the establish- 
ment of the ANZAC area under Ameri- 
can command, but with assumptions 
about the responsibilities of the Pacific 
Fleet commander that took another week 
to remove. It was not until the end of 
the month, therefore, that ANZAC was 
formally established, with Vice Adm. 
Herbert F. Leary in command. His task 
was to cover the eastern and northeastern 
approaches to Australia and New Zea- 
land; protect Allied shipping and sup- 
port the defense of the islands in the 
area; and, finally, destroy enemy forces 
and attack enemy positions in the area. 

The ANZAC command, like 
ABDACOM, was short-lived, but un- 
like that ill-fated command did not dis- 
integrate under Japanese pressure but 
because it had outlived its usefulness. 
Nor did Admiral Leary have responsi- 
bility for the defense of the land areas 
included in ANZAC; his was exclusively 
a naval and air command. Initially it 
consisted of three Australian cruisers, 
plus some destroyers and corvettes. To 

8 CCS 15, The ANZAC Area, 29 Jan 42, ABC 323.31 
(1-24-42) POA 1; Mins, White House Conf, 1 Jan 
42, WDCSA 334 Mtgs and Conf; Hayes, The War 
Against Japan, vol. I, ch. I, pp. 61-64; ABC-i, ann. 3, 
in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 15, p. 1516. 



these were added the USS Chicago and 
two destroyers from the Pacific Fleet. A 
squadron of B— 17's from Hawaii was 
assigned and it reached Townsville in 
northeast Australia on 17 February. 
Several days later these bombers hit Ra- 
baul in the first blow of a long campaign 
of attrition to neutralize that rapidly 
growing Japanese base. 9 

The establishment of ANZAC was 
only one of the measures taken to meet 
the danger created by Japanese 
occupation of Rabaul. 10 It was at this 
time, too, that the Australians approved 
a proposal the Combined Chiefs had 
made on 1 1 January to include Darwin 
and the northwest coast of Australia in 
General Wavell's ABDA area. This 
approval came on 23 January, the same 
day that the Australians agreed to the 
establishment of ANZAC, and the Com- 
bined Chiefs immediately notified 
Wavell of his new responsibilities. 11 

While this change gave some hope for 
the security of Darwin (which the U.S. 
Navy was then using as a base, but 
which it abandoned after the attack of 
19 February) , it did not meet the prob- 
lem of defending Port Moresby in the 
Northeast Area. The ANZAC force 
alone could not, the Australians believed, 
give them the protection they needed 
and they so informed the British while 
requesting 250 more fighter planes and 

°G. Harmon Gill, Royal Australian Navy, 1939— 
42, ser. 2, vol. 1, "Australia in the War of 1939-1945" 
(Canberra: Australian War Mem orial, 1957), p- 519; 
Milner, Victory in Papua \~p, 8. | 

10 The measures discussed in the remainder of this 
section are covered fully in Hayes, The War Against 
Japan, ch. II, pp. 7—12; Matloff and Snell, Strategic 
Planning, 1941—42, pp. 128—31. 

"CCS 8, Inclusion of Port Darwin in ABDA, 24 Jan 
42, ABC 323.31 (1-29-42); Wavell, "ABDACOM," 
p. 4; Rad, CCS to Wavell, DBA 2, 24 Jan 42, OPD 
ABDA Msg File; Gill, Royal Australian Navy, p. 517. 

a squadron of the American P-40's al- 
lotted to General Wavell. Neither the 
British nor the American Chiefs could 
meet this new and unexpected request, 
but offered as an alternative to include 
Port Moresby in the ABDA area. Gen- 
eral Wavell argued strongly against this 
solution as well as the suggestion that he 
divert some of his planes to the Aus- 
tralians, and the matter was dropped. 12 

But the problem of meeting Aus- 
tralia's demand for fighter planes was 
still not solved. After considerable dis- 
cussion, General Marshall agreed to 
divert one American squadron to the 
defense of Port Moresby. This solution, 
though it failed to satisfy the Austral- 
ians, was one which, perforce, they had 
to accept. 13 But by the time this deci- 
sion was made the ANZAC force had 
taken over responsibility for the air and 
naval defense of the Northeast Area. 

It was now early February and the 
signs of disintegration along the Malay 
Barrier to the northwest were clearly 
evident. Here was another threat to an 
Australia already concerned over the 
security of the northeast flank. Two of 
its divisions, the 6th and 7th, were due 
from the Middle East this month and 
the next. Under existing plans they 
were to be used in the defense of the 
Netherlands Indies, and thus, indirectly, 
of Australia itself. To this arrangement 
the Australian Government had no ob- 
jections. But on 13 February General 
Wavell raised another possibility. In 

"Memo, Gerow for Marshall, 27 Jan 42, sub: Msgs 
for Australia, WPD 4628-24; Rads, CCS to ABDA 
COM, DBA 5, 29 Jan 42; Wavell to CCS, 00649, 1 Feb 
42; all in OPD ABDA Msg File; Mins, CCS Mtgs, 23 
and 27 Jan 42. 

"Mins, CCS Mtg, 3 Feb 42; Rads, CCS to Wavell, 
DBA 8, 3 Feb 42; Marshall to Wavell, 5 Feb 42, OPD 
ABDA Msg File. 



view of the early loss of Singapore and 
the prospects of an invasion of Sumatra 
and Java he suggested to the Combined 
Chiefs that at least one of the two Aus- 
tralian divisions be sent instead to 
Burma. 14 

In Washington there was a full appre- 
ciation of the seriousness of the situation 
along the Malay Barrier. It was recog- 
nized, too, that, in the event ABDACOM 
fell, the United States could best defend 
the right (east) flank and the British the 
left in Southeast Asia. 15 But the British 
could ill spare the troops to send there 
and the Australians had already made it 
evident that they would not permit their 
divisions to serve in Burma. Moreover 
there was in the Middle East a thir_d 
Australian division, the gth, which was 
scheduled to return home soon. If the 
British were to have the use of any of 
these troops, then the United States, it 
was becoming increasingly clear, would 
have to provide more than air or service 
troops for the defense of Australia. 

It is against this background that the 
action that followed Wavell's message of 
the igth can be best understood. Up to 
that time the policy of the War Depart- 
ment, reiterated time and again, had 
been to send out only aircraft and the 
necessary service and supporting troops 
to Australia. Now, on 14 February, the 
War Department suddenly reversed it- 
self and decided to send an infantry divi- 
sion — the 41st — as well as additional 
supporting troops, all together about 
25,000 men, for the ground defense of 

"Rad, Wavell to CCS, CCOS 7, 13 Feb 42, OPD 
ABDA Msg File. 

15 Rad, Roosevelt to Prime Minister, 18 Feb 43, 
ABC 523.31 (1—29-42 sec. 1A) POA; Sherwood, 
Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 502^03. 

Australia. Two days later, with the help 
of Harry Hopkins, the ships required for 
most of these troops had been found. In 
a period when snipping space was the 
most precious of Allied resources, this 
rapid action was indeed remarkable. 16 

The Americans and British now turned 
to the Australian Government for aid in 
Burma. On the 16th, after the fall of 
Singapore, Wavell had come out flatly 
for the diversion of both the 6th and 7th 
Australian Divisions to Burma on the 
ground that they would have a "very 
great effect on Japanese strategy and a 
heartening effect on China and India." 17 
Reinforcements for Australia, he said, 
unaware of the decision made in Wash- 
ington two days earlier, should be pro- 
vided by the United States. The United 
States and British Governments, unwill- 
ing to go as far as Wavell and believing 
that Australia would never consent to 
his proposal, asked Curtin for only one 
of the divisions for Burma. To these 
official requests were added the personal 
appeals of Churchill and Roosevelt, the 
latter enjoining the Australian Prime 
Minister to "have every confidence that 
we are going to reinforce your position 
with all possible speed." 18 But the Aus- 
tralians were adamant. They had con- 
tributed much to the imperial cause and 
would neither risk the loss of their men 
in Burma nor jeopardize the security of 

"Rad, Wavell to Prime Minister, 16 Feb 42, OPD 
ABDA Msg File; Memo, Marshall for Eisenhower, 14 
Feb 42, no sub, WPD 4630—64; Churchill, Hinge of 
Fate, pp. 140, passim; Matloff and Snell, Strategic 
Planning, 1941—42, pp. 128—30; Leighton and Coak- 
ley. Global Logistics and Strategy, p. 174. 

"Rad, Wavell to Prime Minister, 16 Feb 42, OPD 
ABDA Msg File. 

"Rad. Roosevelt to Curtin, No. 330, 20 Feb 42, 
OPD ABDA Msg File; Churchill, Hinge of Fate, p. 




the homeland to grant the British the 
use of their 7th Division. 19 

This refusal did not affect the move- 
ment of American ground troops to Aus- 
tralia. The first echelon of the 41st Divi- 
sion left the west coast early in March 
and the rest sailed from San Francisco 
later in the month and during April. 20 
Thus, the United States had committed 
itself, less than three months after the 
attack on Pearl Harbor, to the ground 
defense of Australia, with all that such a 
defense implied. 

The Line of Communications 

Intimately associated with the defense 
of Australia as well as the larger prob- 
lems of future strategy in the Pacific was 
the line of communications between that 
country and the United States. The is- 
lands along this line lay generally south 
of the equator, far from the well-traveled 
air and sea routes to the north. Their 
strategic significance lay in the fact that 
once the Central Pacific was lost, they 
offered the only route to the sister Do- 
minions of Australia and New Zealand. 
Should this South Pacific line be cut 
these Dominions would be isolated and 
the island possessions of the Allies lost 
to the enemy. 

This fact was thoroughly understood 
by the Japanese naval planners. The 
lessons taught by Admiral Mahan had 
not been lost on these officers and they 
looked on the islands of the South Pacific 
with an envious eye. Fortunately for the 
Allied cause, they were unable to in- 

19 Rad, Curtin to Churchill, zi Feb 42, OPD ABDA 
Msg File. 

"Memos, WPD for G-3, 17 and 19 Feb 42, sub: 
Movement of Troops to SUMAC, WPD 4630—66 and 
70; Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Stra- 
tegy, p. 174. 

elude these islands in their war plans for 
the timetable of conquest was too close 
and the initial operations too numerous 
and scattered. But they did not overlook 
them either. In his order to the Com- 
bined Fleet setting out the tasks to be 
accomplished, Admiral Yamamoto listed 
among the "areas expected to be occu- 
pied or destroyed as quickly as opera- 
tional conditions permit the Fijis. . .and 
Samoa," as well as "strategic points in 
the Australian Area." 21 Taken in con- 
junction with the occupation of the Bis- 
marck Archipelago and the islands of the 
Central Pacific, this statement of inten- 
tions had large implications for the war 
in the Pacific. 

The United States had recognized 
early the importance of the islands of 
the South Pacific and in October 1941 
had begun building airfields on some of 
them to provide an alternate air ferry 
route to the Philippines. But the work 
had only just begun when war came and, 
except for local defense forces, none of 
the islands had been garrisoned. This 
lack was partially remedied in the days 
following Pearl Harbor when General 
Short in Hawaii sent token forces con- 
sisting of a few gun crews to Canton and 
Christmas Islands, both of which were 
under his jurisdiction. He could do no 
more until his own urgent needs were 
filled. 22 

Primary responsibility for the local 
defense of the islands of the Pacific 
rested with the governing nations — 
Great Britain, New Zealand, the Free 
French, Australia, and, in the case of 

21 Combined Fleet Opn Order No. 1, 5 Nov 41, copy 
in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 3, p. 438. 

M See above, [p. 99; | Mins, JB Mtg, 26 Nov 41; 
Msgs in AG 381 ( 1 1—27—41 sec. 1) Far East; K. Will- 
iams, The South Pacific Air Route, TJSAF Hist 
Studies, No. 45. 



Hawaii, Samoa, and other small islands, 
the United States. But the task of guard- 
ing the sea lanes to Australia and New 
Zealand — a separate though related prob- 
lem to that of local defense — was the 
responsibility of the Pacific Fleet and 
British naval forces. Under ABC-i and 
the Rainbow plan, the former was re- 
sponsible for the defense of the area east 
of the 180th meridian, that is, up to but 
not including the Fijis and New Zea- 
land; the latter for the region to the 
west as far as longitude 155 east. The 
Pacific Fleet had the additional mission 
of supporting the British in their area 
of responsibility which included the east 
coast of Australia and the southeast 
portion of the Papuan Peninsula. 2 * 

This arrangement was invalidated al- 
most immediately on the outbreak of war 
when the Chief of Naval Operations had 
declared that the Pacific Fleet could do 
no more than defend the area east of the 
180th meridian. The result of this deci- 
sion, which the British and Australians 
accepted only because they had to, left 
a vacuum in the Allied defenses, which, 
it was apparent, the Japanese would soon 
fill if the Allies did not. Late in Decem- 
ber, therefore, when the initial shock of 
the Pearl Harbor attack had worn off, 
Admiral King ordered the recently ap- 
pointed Commander in Chief of the 
Pacific Fleet, Admiral Nimitz, to main- 
tain the line of communication to Aus- 
tralia by extending his control of the 
line Hawaii-Samoa westward to include 
the Fijis "at earliest practicable date." 
This task, King told Nimitz, was second 
and "only in small degrees less impor- 
tant" than the protection of the line of 

communication from Midway to Hawaii 
and the west coast. 24 

This decision did not ensure the secu- 
rity of the line of communications, how- 
ever, for it still left the area west of the 
Fijis uncovered and made no provision 
for local defense. The problem was 
therefore laid before the first U.S.-British 
conference then in session in Washing- 
ton. No one there disagreed with the 
necessity for holding the islands, which 
it was recognized not only furnished an 
air route across the Pacific but provided 
bases for Allied air and naval forces and 
outposts for the defense of Hawaii and 


Australia as well, 
problem for the p 

(Map 3 ) 

was to 



the troops to do the job and the shipping 
to support them. The formula finally 
agreed upon, on 10 January, was to allo- 
cate responsibility for the defense of the 
islands east of the 180th meridian to the 
United States, and those west of that line 
to New Zealand and Australia. 25 

Even before this agreement was 
reached, the Americans had been assem- 
bling the forces needed to garrison the 
islands in their area of responsibility. 
The Army, it had been decided, would 
provide the garrisons for Christmas, Can- 
ton, and Bora Bora; the Navy, for Palmy- 
ra and Samoa. These garrisons would be 
small, for it was recognized that the secu- 
rity of the islands depended ultimately 
on air and naval power, rather than on 
the strength of the ground forces. To 
convert each island into an impregnable 

2,1 ABC— 1, copy in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, 
pi. 15; Mins, JB Mtg, 8 Dec 41. 

M Ltr, Secy for Collab to Br Staff Mission, 16 Dec 41, 
sub: Modification of ABC-i; Rad, COM1NCH to 
CINCPAC, 1740, 30 Dec 41, both cited in Hayes, The 
War Against Japan, ch. I, pp. n, 58. 

M ABC-4, 31 Dec 41; ABC-4/8, 10 Jan 42, sub: 
Defense of Island Bases, both in Arcadia; Memo, 
WPD for CofS, 4 Jan 42, sub: Troop Movements to 
Pacific Bases, WPD 4571-22. 


MAP 3 

fortress would not only be wasteful of 
precious troop strength and shipping, 
but would probably be less effective than 
defense by mobile air and naval forces. 
Thus the strength of the Canton and 
Christmas garrisons was set at about 
2,000 men each, chiefly infantry and ar- 
tillery, and a squadron of pursuit planes. 
Bora Bora, which the Navy planned to 
use as a refueling station, was given an 
Army garrison of 4,000 consisting largely 
of an infantry and an antiaircraft 
artillery regiment. 28 

"Relevant papers on the planning and organiza- 
tion of these garrisons are filed in WPD 4571-22 and 
24. The story of the establishment of the base at 
B0ra Bora, with emphasis on the logistical problem, 

Palmyra, between Hawaii and Canton, 
was an essential link in the new air ferry 
route. The Navy had begun, a year 
before the war, to develop a seaplane 
base there but wished now to enlarge 
its facilities and to garrison the island. 
For this purpose it sent out a Marine 
detachment and naval construction units, 
while the Army supplied a pursuit 
squadron for local protection. Plans for 
the expansion of military facilities in 
American Samoa, which had been under 
naval administration since its acquisition 

is told in Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and 
Strategy, ch. VII; see also, Craven and Cate, AAF I, 
p. 431. 



in 1899 and already possessed air and 
naval installations, were also pushed vig- 
orously by the Navy. Its defenses were 
provided by a Marine brigade which 
left San Diego on 6 January, escorted 
by a naval force including the carriers 
Enterprise and Yorktown, and which 
reached the island seventeen days later. 27 

The defense of Hawaii was a special 
case. In the first days of war its rein- 
forcement had seemed perhaps the most 
urgent task facing the Army and Navy, 
but by Christmas 1941 concern for its 
safety had somewhat abated. Priority for 
troops and equipment had then shifted 
to the Southwest Pacific. But General 
Emmons, the new commander of the 
Hawaiian Department, had been prom- 
ised in December large reinforcements, 
including one square division, an ar- 
mored regiment, aircraft of all types, and 
service troops. These, he had been told 
at the time, would be shipped later, after 
the emergency in the Southwest Pacific 
had passed. The threat in that area, 
however, had increased rather than 
diminished, and, with the additional ne- 
cessity of reinforcing the line of commu- 
nications, had made the prospect of 
strengthening Hawaii's defenses more 
remote than ever. 28 

In February, therefore, when Emmons 
requested reinforcements above those al- 

57 Department of the Navy, Building the Navy's 
Bases in World War II, (Washington, 1947), pp. 121— 
23, 190-95, 208-13; Morison, The Rising Sun in the 
Pacific, p. 259; Craven and Gate, AAF I, p. 437. 

"Rad, Marshall to Emmons, No. 1013, 16 Jan 42; 
Emmons to TAG, No. 1677, 13 Jan 43, both in WPD 
Msg File; Memo, Gerow for Eisenhower, 20 Feb 42, 
sub: Reinforcements for Hawaii, WPD 3444-19. See 
also Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, 
p. 152; Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding 
the United States and Its Outposts, ch. VIII. 

ready authorized, the whole question of 
the defense of Hawaii and its troop re- 
quirements came up for review. By this 
time it was clear that the major part of 
the Japanese forces was committed to the 
Southwest Pacific and that Hawaii was 
no longer in danger of invasion. The 
Japanese were still capable of air and 
naval raids against the islands, but this 
threat could be met by the Pacific Fleet 
and the air strength already allotted. 
It was recognized, moreover, that the 
assignment of additional air and ground 
forces to Hawaii would play into Japan's 
hands for it would pin down American 
strength and consume valuable shipping 
space without any appreciable effect on 
Japanese military forces. The Joint 
Chiefs therefore turned down Emmons' 
new requests and decided to send him 
only what had been promised earlier. 29 

This decision made, the Army hast- 
ened the shipment of the promised but 
long-overdue reinforcements to Hawaii. 
In mid-February an advance party of the 
27th Division left the west coast to make 
preparations for the arrival of the rest 
of the division. In ships loaned by the 
British, the New York National Guard 
division was moved to Hawaii in three 
echelons during March. But at the end 
of the month there were still 40,000 
troops allocated to the Hawaiian garrison 
in the United States awaiting shipment. 30 

Providing forces for the islands west 
of the 180th meridian was not initially 
an American responsibility. For the 

"JCS 11 and 11/1, Hawaiian Defense Forces, 12 
Feb 42, ABC 381 (2-12-42) Hawaii. 

"Edmund G. Love, The 2jth Infantry Division in 
World War If (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 
■949). P- 18. Relevant papers are filed in AG 370—5 



Fijis, which many thought to be seriously 
threatened, the United States agreed to 
provide air and antiaircraft forces. But 
it was New Zealand which furnished 
most of the air as well as the ground 
defenses of the island, a contribution 
which exceeded 8,000 men, including 
the native Fijian troops who later ac- 
quired an awesome reputation as jungle 
fighters. 31 

The security of New Caledonia was 
one of the most bothersome problems 
of the Pacific area. Second in size only 
to New Zealand among the islands in 
the South Pacific and an important sta- 
tion along the air ferry route, New Cale- 
donia had a dual strategic significance. 
Not only did it lie at the end of the 
long line of islands stretching across the 
Pacific, but it flanked the northeast ap- 
proaches to Australia from New Guinea 
and the Solomons. Moreover it con- 
tained valuable deposits of nickel and 
chrome, which would undoubtedly make 
it a tempting prize, Admiral King 
thought, for the metal-hungry Japanese. 

The defense of New Caledonia was 
complicated by political factors. Sover- 
eignty was exercised by the Free French 
Government in London through a High 
Commissioner, Admiral Georges Thierry 
d'Argenlieu, but responsibility for its 
defense was assigned by the Allies to 
Australia. Neither could spare the large 
forces required to make this vital outpost 
secure. The French had on the island 
1,400 poorly equipped, ill-trained troops, 
mostly natives, and the Australians could 
contribute only a single company of 
commandos. Reinforcements were ur- 
gently needed, and it was this need that 

Craven and Cate, AAF I, pp. 430-31, 434. 

projected the United States into the con- 
fused politics of New Caledonia and 
made that island one of the major 
American bases in the Pacific. 32 

American interest in New Caledonia 
predated the war. Since October 1941 
the United States had been actively nego- 
tiating with the Free French for the right 
to construct an airfield there. Work on 
the field was well along on 7 December, 
despite conflict between the French and 
the Australians who were building the 
airstrip. Pearl Harbor gave an added 
impetus to this effort and an urgency 
to the island's defense that was height- 
ened when General Charles de Gaulle 
threw in his lot with the powers arrayed 
against Japan and offered to make avail- 
able to the Allies the Free French islands 
of the Pacific. 33 Neither Australia nor 
the United States, however, was yet ready 
to assume responsibility for the defense 
of the island. 

The progress of negotiations soon hit 
a snag. General de Gaulle and his Pacific 
representative, Admiral d'Argenlieu, had 
approved American plans for the devel- 
opment of airfields in New Caledonia 
with the understanding that these fields 
would be under a French commander 
who would in turn be subordinate to 
any Allied command established in the 
Southwest Pacific. Such an Allied com- 

13 This account of the reinforcement of New Cale- 
donia is based on OPD Hist MS, Delaying and Con- 
taining Action in the Pacific, pp. 28—35; Matloff and 
Snell, Strategic Planning, / 947-^2, pp. 115—17; Hayes, 
The War Against Japan, ch. II, pp. 59-60; Capt. 
Francis D. Cronin, Under the Southern Cross (Wash- 
ington: Combat Forces Press, 1951), ch. I. Valuable 
material is contained in WPD 3718, AG 381 (n-27- 
44) (1-19-42), and folder entitled Political Distur- 
bances, New Caledonia, OCMH. 

M Capt Tracy B. Kittredge, Evolution of Global 
Strategy, pt. II, ch. II, pp. 29-30, JCS Hist Div, 


mand, they had assumed, would be 
American. By arrangements between the 
Americans and British, however, New 
Caledonia fell into the British area of 
responsibility, and had been delegated 
by them to the Australians. When 
d'Argenlieu learned of this arrangement 
he insisted that the French command all 
Allied forces and installations on the 
island and demanded that he be in- 
formed of plans for the area. He per* 
mitted the Australians to continue work 
on the airfield, but on a temporary 
basis. 34 

Weeks passed and d'Argenlieu re- 
ceived no word of plans for the defense 
of the island or of the decisions reached 
by the Americans and British then meet- 
ing in Washington. Increasingly nervous 
over the safety of the island, where Jap- 
anese submarines had already been 
sighted, and unable to get any satisfac- 
tion from the Australians, the French 
turned to the Americans — to General 
Emmons in Hawaii and to officials in 
Washington — with their complaints. Fi- 
nally, on about 15 January, d'Argenlieu 
told Emmons that if reinforcements were 
not sent immediately it would be neces- 
sary to stop all work on the airfields 
because they would, when completed, 
provide the Japanese with a strong in- 
ducement for attacking New Caledonia. 35 

Already a decision on the defense of 
New Caledonia had been made, based 
not on d'Argenlieu's thinly veiled 
threats but on a sober review by the 
Combined Chiefs of the needs of the 

"Ibid., pp. 31-33. 

"Memo, OolS for Secy Slate, so Jan 42, sub: De- 
fense of New Caledonia, WPi) 3718-14. Many of the 
papers tiering with New Caledonia are locaLcri in 
this file. 

islands along the line of communica- 
tions. By that decision, which was kept 
a carefully guarded secret from the 
French, the United States agreed to as- 
sume Australia's obligations in New 
Caledonia. The size of the force it agreed 
to send there was the largest yet allo- 
cated to the Pacific, except for Hawaii 
and Australia, and consisted of one divi- 
sion (reinforced), two air squadrons, and 
service troops. So large an undertaking 
strained an already overloaded shipping 
schedule and made even more marked 
the discrepancy between a strategy that 
placed the war in Europe first and a 
program that sent the bulk of the troops 
to the Pacific. 

The Army planners recognized — and 
deplored — this and other diversions 
from the main theater but could not 
deny the necessity that had created them. 
Immediately they set to work assembling 
the forces requited and making arrange- 
ments for their shipment. Instead of 
selecting a division already organized 
and trained the planners put together a 
force, under the command of Brig. Gen. 
Alexander M. Patch, Jr., of about 15,000 
men, many of them from the recently 
triangularized 26th and 33d National 
Guard Divisions. Though this force, 
designated Task Force G184, consisted 
of an "odd conglomeration" of units 
that gave it the appearance, at first 
glance, of a "military stew of men and 
equipment," it had many of the marks 
of an infantry division. There was a 
brigade headquarters from the 26th Divi- 
sion, two infantry regiments, the 133d 
and 184th, a field artillery regiment with 
155 mm. howitzers, and the usual service 
elements, strengthened by attachments. 
But it included also a battalion of light 
tanks, a pursuit squadron, an antiair- 



craft regiment, and a coast artillery bat- 
talion. 36 

The mission given General Patch was 
brief: to hold New Caledonia, in co- 
operation with the military forces of the 
United Nations, against all attacks. Pre- 
sumably he would receive no reinforce- 
ments. He was an independent com- 
mander, responsible only to the War 
Department and reporting directly to 
Washington. But his authority was more 
restricted than it appeared on the sur- 
face. He had, for example, no control 
over the airfields which were causing so 
much difficulty with the French. That 
was the responsibility of General 
Emmons, over 3,000 miles away, and of 
the Australians who were doing the con- 
struction work. Also, responsibility for 
the supply of his force was shared by the 
San Francisco Port of Embarkation and 
General Barnes in Australia, who had 
also to meet the demands of Brereton 
and Brett for the ABDA area and Mac- 
Arthur for the Philippines. Finally, as 
Patch soon learned, the question of 
French participation in the command 
of forces on the island was still far from 
settled. 37 

In the record time of two weeks, not 
without considerable difficulty and con- 
fusion, Task Force 6184, including about 
4,000 air and service troops for Austra- 
lia, was organized, equipped, and loaded 
aboard seven transports, all that could 
be assembled on the east coast at that 
time. On 23 January it sailed from New 
York and reached Melbourne, via the 

"Cronin, Under the Southern Cross, p. 4. For a list 
of the units in TF 6184, see p. 42a; Matloff and Snell, 
Strategic Planning, 1941-42, p. 149, N. 10. 

"Memo, WPD for TAG, aa Jan 4a, sub: Defense 
of New Caledonia, WPD 5718-17. 

General Patch being greeted by Admiral 

Panama Canal, on 26 February. In Aus- 
tralia, where there was considerable anx- 
iety over the safety of the homeland and 
where American ground forces had not 
yet made their appearance, envious eyes 
were cast upon this large force, not only 
by the Australians but by the American 
commanders as well. But there was no 
mistaking the destination of Task Force 
6184 or General Marshall's injunction 
that this force was to be used along the 
line of communications, not as reinforce- 
ments for Australia or the ABDA area. 38 
Meanwhile Admiral d'Argenlieu had 
become more and more insistent in his 
demand for troops and equipment. Fear- 
ing premature disclosure through Free 
French channels of the movement of so 
large a force, General Marshall was ada- 

"Rad, Marshall to Brett, No. 69, a Feb 4*, AG 381 
(11-27-41 sec. sA), Far East. 



Forward Echelon of the 41st Division en route to Australia unloading at Oro Bay, 
New Guinea. 

mant in his refusal to do more than 
authorize General Emmons to tell the 
admiral that the Allies would provide 
for the defense of New Caledonia. The 
nationality, composition, size, and time 
of arrival of the force were kept secret 
and d'Argenlieu, perforce, had to con- 
tent himself with Emmons' assurances 
that the island would be defended. 

The transshipment of Task Force 6184 
from Melbourne to New Caledonia was 
a heavy task. The troops had to be 
debarked and those intended for use 
in Australia sent to their destinations 
with their equipment. The remainder 
of the men had to be housed and fed 
in nearby camps while the cargo was 

sorted, rearranged, and loaded. 39 Gen- 
eral Patch had left for Australia by air 
via the South Atlantic route to make 
these arrangements, carrying with him 
the manifests and other documents. But 
he fell ill in Trinidad and had to return 
to Washington for hospitalization. Later 
he flew directly across the Pacific to New 
Caledonia, stopping only at Hawaii to 
consult with General Emmons. Mean- 
while Barnes made whatever prepara- 
tions he could until another courier 

"Lcighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Stra- 
tegy, p. 150 passim. The documents on this shipment 
are well summarized in Matloff and Snell, Strategic 
Planning, 1491—42, p. 150, n, 14. 



Laboring in the heat of the Australian 
summer, the dock workers at Melbourne 
completed their task by 6 March and on 
that date the seven transports of Task 
Force 6184, with naval escort, set sail 
for New Caledonia. After an unevent- 
ful voyage they entered the harbor of 
Noumea at the southwest tip of the cigar- 
shaped island six days later. There 
arrangements for their unloading had 
already been made by an advance party 
flown in from Melbourne. General 
Patch had arrived on the 5th, bringing 
with him the information that d'Argen- 
lieu had been seeking for so long and 
the news that a large force would soon 
reach the island. This news and the 
arrival of Task Force 6184 put to rest 
the uncertainty and fears of the French, 
but, unfortunately, did not end the dif- 
ficulties that had plagued the planners 
and diplomats and now rested on Patch's 

Although General Patch had been told 
he could expect no reinforcements, these 
were soon on the way. In mid-April, he 
received a third infantry regiment, the 
164th, and authority to organize from 
his force an infantry division. This was 
done in May when the Americal Divi- 
sion, which was to fight its way from 
Guadalcanal to Tokyo, was created. 

By the time Task Force 6184 arrived 
in New Caledonia the 41st Division was 
on its way to Australia and the garrisons 
organized early in January to defend the 
line of communications had already 
reached their destinations. In the Fijis 
was the 70th Pursuit Squadron. The 
Bora Bora garrison, which left Charles- 
ton on 27 January, completed its jour- 
ney in three weeks but so hastily had it 
been assembled and shipped that it did 
not complete its unloading until almost 

two months later. The Christmas Island 
and Canton garrisons left San Francisco 
on 31 January and were at their stations 
before the middle of February. 40 The 
line of communications between the 
United States and Australia, which had 
lain so nakedly exposed to Japanese 
attack in the dark days after Pearl Har- 
bor, was, three months later, rapidly 
being converted into a chain of island 
bases linking the two countries. But it 
was still only a thin line of defense, 
weakly held and easily pierced, and the 
danger of attack was still a live threat. 
(Table 3) 

The Japanese Threat 

The Japanese had not been idle dur- 
ing these months. Even before the war 
their naval planners had contended that 
they could not stop with the seizure of 
Rabaul but must go on to establish con- 
trol over the Solomons and the northeast 
coast of New Guinea. Such action would 
not only secure the Japanese position in 
the Bismarck Archipelago with the least 
cost through air attrition, but would, the 
naval planners noted, provide a spring- 
board for further advances to the Fijis, 
Samoa, and "strategic points in the Aus- 
tralia Area." Though they were unable 
to win approval for this scheme in the 
prewar plan, the naval planners did 
not abandon the project but placed it 
on their agenda, to be accomplished 
"as quickly as operational conditions 
permit." 41 

Hardly had Rabaul fallen when the 

"Matloft and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, 
p. 150; Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and 
Strategy, ch. VII. 

"Combined Fleet Operational Order No. 1, 5 Nov 
41, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, pt. 3, p. 438. 


Table 3 — Major Army Combat Forces for the Pacific, Present and Projected, 

April-May 1942 






24 th Division 
25th Division 
27 th Division 
(Additional Division 

AA Regiments: 

6 Present 

1 Projected 
CAC Regiments 

(155-mm. Gun), 2 

Heavy Bombers: 
41 Present 
96 Projected 

Medium and Light 
26 Present 

179 Present 
225 Projected 



rlln route 
41st \ 

AA Regiments, 3 
AA Battalions, 3 

Heavy Bombers: 

41 Present 

80 Projected 
Medium and Light 


152 Present and 
En route 

207 Projected 

477 Present and 
En route 

640 Projected 

New Caledonia . _ 

Divisions, Americal 

AA Regiment, 1 
CAC Battalion, 
155-mm. Gun, 1 

40 Present 
75 Projected 


Division, 37th, Projected 

Pursuit, 25 

Bora Bora 

Regiments, 102d Infantry 
(less one Battalion) 

AA Regiment, 1 

Christmas . 

Battalion, 1 

CA Battalions, 2 

Pursuit, 25 

Canton. . . 

2 Companies 

CA Battalions, 2 

40 Present 
50 Projected 


147th Infantry reinforced 
(less one bn) 

AA Regiment, 1 

Pursuit, 25 Present 


24th Infantry (reinforced) 



Navy high command raised the question 
of a further advance into the area north- 
east of Australia. "Operational condi- 
tions," the naval officers thought, were 
ripe for an extension of the original 
perimeter into the Solomon Islands and 
northeast New Guinea, to Lae and Sala- 
maua in the Huon Gulf, and even to 
Port Moresby. Such a move, they ar- 
gued, would not only strengthen Japan's 
defensive position but would deny the 
Allies key bases for counterattack. From 
airfields in this area the Imperial Navy 
could keep a close watch on enemy naval 
movements far to the south and at the 
same time "intensify pressure on north- 
eastern Australia," hindering its use for 
air operations by the Allies. These large 
results, naval officers did not fail to point 
out to their Army colleagues, could be 
achieved at slight cost and with few 
troops. 42 

While the Army planners were digest- 
ing this tempting morsel, the Navy pre- 
sented them with still another dish — 
one on which they nearly choked. Since 
the main reason for advancing beyond 
the original perimeter was to delay an 
Allied counteroffensive from the south, 
why not, the Navy asked, seize the main 
enemy base by taking Australia itself? 
Apparently carried away by its own 
boldness the Navy went even further — 
there were no limits to this kind of 
strategy — and proposed that India, too, 
be taken as a means of forestalling Allied 
recovery and reorganization. Clearly the 
naval staff, as one of the Japanese ad- 

a Japanese Opns in SWPA, SWPA Series II, ch. V, 
pp. 6—7; Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 72, pp. 33—34; Lt Gen Seizo 
Arisue, formerly intelligence chief of the General 
Staff, reply to author's questions, 14 Jul 4g, ATIS 
Doc No. 49157, p. 27, copy in OCMH. 

mirals put it, had succumbed to the 
"so-called Victory Disease." 43 

No decision was reached on the inva- 
sion of Australia or India at this time. 
At least twelve divisions would be re- 
quired to invade Australia, the Army 
planners said, as well as supplies and 
shipping in such magnitude as to make 
the operation "a reckless undertaking far 
in excess of Japan capabilities." 44 Simi- 
lar reasons ruled out the move against 
India. The Navy did not push these 
projects — though it had its own plans 
for carrier strikes in the Indian Ocean 
— and was satisfied to let the matter rest 
for the time being. 

To the proposal to advance into New 
Guinea and the Solomons the Army 
could find few objections. It was a fea- 
sible operation, would have significant 
results, and would require relatively few 
Army troops. Agreement was quickly 
reached. On 2g January Imperial Gen- 
eral Headquarters issued orders direct- 
ing Army and Navy forces in the 
Bismarcks to occupy the Lae-Salamaua 
area in New Guinea and then, "if pos- 
sible," move on to take Port Moresby. 
Operations to seize air bases in the Solo- 
mons and capture Tulagi, just north of 
Guadalcanal, were authorized at the same 

■"Statement of Rear Adm Tadaichi Hara, cited in 
Samuel Eliot Morison, Coral Sea, Midway and Sub- 
marine Actions, May 1942 — August 1942, vol. IV, 
"History of United States Naval Operations in World 
War II" (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1949), 
p. 4; Japanese Opns in SWPA, ch. V pp. io_n; Arisue 
Questionnaire, pp. 28-39; Interrog of Lt Gen Shini- 
chi Tanaka, 25 Oct 47, copy in OCMH; Statements 
of Rear Adm Sadatoshi Tomioka, Navy Sec, Imperial 
GHQ, 2 Aug 50, ATIS Doc 61232; Col Takushiro 
Hattori, Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, 29 Aug 49, ATIS 
Doc 50307, both in Statements of Japanese Officials, 
IV, 314 and T, 331, copy in OCMH. 

"Arisue Questionnaire, p. 29. 



time but would be carried out by naval 
forces alone. 45 

Plans for the invasion of Lae and Sala- 
maua, like those for the Bismarck area, 
were made by General Horii, com- 
mander of the South Seas Detachment, 
and Admiral Inouye, 4 th Fleet com- 
mander. With a full knowledge of the 
weakness of the Australian garrisons in 
New Guinea, the two commanders as- 
signed only small forces to the operation. 
Salamaua was to be taken by one battal- 
ion of Horii's detachment, supported by 
an artillery battery and other smaller 
units; Lae by a naval landing force of 
battalion size. Naval escort and support, 
including four heavy and two light cruis- 
ers, would be provided by Inouye's 4 th 
Fleet, and air cover by the 4th Air Group 
based at Rabaul. These plans were com- 
pleted on 16 February, with the landing 
scheduled for the end of the month. 46 

The concentration of Japanese forces 
at Rabaul had not gone unnoticed and 
Admiral Nimitz had sent the carrier 
Lexington into the area. With Admiral 
Leary's B— 17's at Townsville, this car- 
rier force was to meet the enemy and, 
if possible, destroy it. On 20 February 
the Lexington, accompanied by four 
heavy cruisers and ten destroyers, reached 
a point about 350 miles south of Rabaul 
where it was detected and attacked by 
Japanese aircraft. The battle that fol- 
lowed was inconclusive. The American 
carrier force drove off the Japanese 
planes, but abandoned any further effort 
against Rabaul because all chance of sur- 

"Navy Sec, Imperial GHQ, Directive No. 47, 29 
Jan 42. The order is quoted in Japanese Opns in 
SWPA, ch. V, pp. 7-8. 

"Southeast Area Naval Opns, Japanese Studies in 
World War II, 48, pp. 19—20; Japanese Opns in 
SWPA, ch. V, pp. 8-9; Milner, Victory in Papua, 
ch. I. I 

prising the Japanese had been lost and 
the ships were running short of fuel. 
Two days later the ANZAC B-17's made 
their first attack on Rabaul. 47 

These raids, while they did not alter 
the Japanese plan, did postpone its exe- 
cution. Finally, on 5 March, all was in 
readiness and the invasion force sortied 
from Rabaul harbor to reach Huon Gulf 
two days later. There it split, one group 
heading for Lae, the other for Salamaua. 
Early next morning, 8 March, the troops 
went ashore, covered by aircraft from 
Rabaul and Gasmata which had been 
bombing the target area as well as Port 
Moresby since the 2d. There was no 
opposition at the beaches or in the 
towns, and during the next two days 
the Japanese unloaded their supplies and 
began to build the bases. Thus, at al- 
most no cost, the Japanese acquired 
control of the straits between northeast 
New Guinea and New Britain and posi- 
tions from which they could support a 
further advance southward and prevent 
the Allies from breaking out into the 
open seas north of the Bismarck 
Archipelago. 48 

The absence of opposition did not 
mean the Allies would take this fresh 
assault without reprisal. Since the in- 
conclusive raid of the Lexington on 20 
February, Admiral Nimitz had assem- 
bled another force, almost double that 
of the first, in an effort to halt the Japa- 
nese advance into Australia's Northeast 

"Early raids in the Pacific Ocean, 1 Feb— 10 Mar 
42, Combat Narrative, ONI, pp. 35-40. See General 
Marshall's warning of probable enemy carrier opera- 
tions northeast of Australia in his letter to Barnes, 
undated, but written early in February, WPD 


"Japanese Opns in SWPA, ch. V, p. 9; Hist of 
South Seas Detachment, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 36, I, 10— 1 1; Naval Invasion of Eastern New 
Guinea, Japanese Studies in World War II, 101. 



Area. This time he used two carriers, 
the Lexington and the Yorktown, sup- 
ported by more cruisers and destroyers 
plus elements of the ANZAC force. 
These vessels sortied northward toward 
Rabaul early in March, too late to inter- 
cept the convoys headed for Lae and 
Salamaua. But they were not too late 
to do damage, and on 10 March, from 
positions in the Gulf of Papua, the car- 
riers sent their planes aloft toward Huon 
Gulf. The strike apparently came as a 
complete surprise to the Japanese, who 
lost four vessels sunk, three more dam- 
aged, and almost 400 men killed and 
wounded. Next day the B-i^'s from 
Townsville came over Lae and Salamaua, 
but with less effect. That attack marked 
the last serious effort made during this 
period against the Japanese, who by this 
time had brought aircraft into the area 
and declared it secure. They were now 
within 170 air miles of Port Moresby. 49 
Operations against Port Moresby and 
Tulagi, which the Japanese intended to 
use as air bases, were to have begun im- 
mediately after the capture of Lae and 
Salamaua, according to the 29 January 
directive from Imperial General Head- 
quarters. But by the time those bases 
had been taken more than a month later, 
Admiral Inouye had revised his view of 
the seriousness of the next step. His 
original plan had been based on the 
assumption that the Allies would be un- 
able to bring air power to the target and 
that therefore he would need only the 
long-range planes from Rabaul as sup- 
port. In view of what had happened 
since 20 February, and the growing 

"Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, p. 387; 
Early Raids in the Pacific, ONI Combat Narrative, 
pp. 57-68; Hist of South Seas Detachment, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 36, I, 11-12. 

strength of Allied air power in Australia, 
that assumption was no longer valid. 
The seizure of Port Moresby and Tulagi 
would be far riskier than anticipated, 
Inouye concluded, and would require 
carrier support. But the carriers that he 
needed were no longer available, for the 
striking force of the Combined Fleet 
with five carriers and four battleships 
was making ready for a raid against Cey- 
lon, scheduled for early April. Admiral 
Inouye had no choice, therefore, but to 
await the return of the fleet from the 
Indian Ocean. In the interim he con- 
solidated his position in the Bismarck 
Archipelago and advanced into the 
northern Solomons — to the Shortland 
Islands and Bougainville. 50 

Meanwhile in Tokyo the question of 
an invasion of Australia had come up 
again. The Navy pushed more vigor- 
ously for its plan this time, arguing that 
the U. S, Fleet would be unable to take 
offensive action in the western Pacific 
until the end of 1942. In the meantime, 
the naval planners warned, the Allies 
were pouring airplanes, men, and sup- 
plies into Australia and converting it 
into a base for offensive operations. The 
Army's desire to consolidate along the 
original perimeter and concentrate on 
the war in China and preparations for a 
possible attack by Soviet Russia, the 
naval planners argued, constituted a de- 
fensive and negative policy. "Such a 
policy," asserted Yamamoto's chief of 
staff, "would in effect render futile all 
our military successes" and put Japan 
"in the position of waiting for her ene- 
mies to attack without any special ad- 

M Japanese Opns in SWPA, ch. V, p. 10; Southeast 
Area Naval Opns, Japanese Studies in World War II, 
48, I, pp. i-a; Hist of South Seas Detachment, Japa- 
nese Studies in World War II, 36, p. 8. 



vantage to herself. . . ." 51 The wisest 
course, therefore, was to continue on the 
offensive, with Australia as the ultimate 

The Army remained adamant in its 
opposition to this plan. Its original con- 
ception of operations in the Southwest 
Pacific had been defensive and the 
Navy's proposal for an aggressive policy 
in that area was alarming. Army forces, 
already widely scattered throughout the 
Netherlands Indies, Malaya, Burma, In- 
dochina, the Philippines, and elsewhere, 
would have to be spread dangerously 
thin if Japan embarked on new and cost- 
ly adventures. Moreover, the fear of 
Russia, which had dictated the time of 
attack and the speed of the advance, had 
not abated and the Army was anxious to 
adhere to the original plan to deploy its 
forces to the north. All these considera- 
tions, plus the size of the force required 
and the difficulties of supplying and 
maintaining this force, convinced the 
Army that the invasion of Australia was 
a "ridiculous operation." 62 

The outcome of this debate, which 
lasted through March and April, was a 
compromise plan, approved on 28 April, 
to cut the line of communications and 
isolate Australia. Under this plan, the 
long-deferred Port Moresby and Tulagi 
operation would be speedily concluded 
and would be followed by the occupa- 
tion of important points in New Cale- 
donia, the Fijis, and Samoa. From these 
newly acquired bases, Japanese aircraft 
and submarines could interrupt if not 
cut off entirely the flow of weapons, men, 

01 Private Papers of Rear Adm Mutome Ugaki, 
quoted in Japanese Opns in SWPA, ch. V, p. 1 1 , n. 30; 
Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, Japanese Studies in 
World War II, 72, pp. 45—50. 

"Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, p. 50; Japanese 
Opns in the SWPA, ch. V, pp. 11-13. 

and supplies to Australia and prevent 
the development on that continent of a 
base for an Allied counteroffensive. Ob- 
viously this was a compromise which 
favored the Navy point of view. 53 

Preparations for the Tulagi and Port 
Moresby invasions were already com- 
plete when Imperial General Headquar- 
ters issued its new plan on 28 April. The 
South Seas Detachment and the naval 
landing troops of the 4 th Fleet were 
standing by, ready to embark; three days 
earlier Rabaul-based bombers had be- 
gun to strike northeast Australia. D-day 
for Tulagi was set for 3 May; for Port 
Moresby, a week later. On 20, April the 
5th Carrier Division (two carriers) and 
the 5th Cruiser Division reached Truk. 
At long last, Admiral Inouye could begin 
the Port Moresby operation. 

On 4 May, the day after Inouye moved 
his headquarters from Truk to Rabaul 
and a naval force landed at Tulagi, the 
Port Moresby invasion force set sail. Al- 
ready the joint staff in Tokyo was mak- 
ing plans for the invasion of New 
Caledonia, the Fijis, and Samoa. 

Pacific Build-up 

At the same time the Japanese were 
heatedly debating their future course, 
the American planners in Washington 
were reviewing the twin problems of 
strategy and deployment in the Pacific 
in the light of the decision to make the 
main effort against Germany. Despite 
every effort to halt the movement of 
troops, planes, and weapons to the Paci- 
fic and every argument that these move- 
ments and the precious shipping they 

"Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, pp. 50—51; 
Arisue Questionnaire, pp. 28-29; Deposition of 
Shinichi Tanaka, IMTFE Exhibit 2676. 



consumed were in violation of the ac- 
cepted strategy, this flow continued and 
even increased. And with each shipment 
of troops came increased demands for 
additional troops, for more planes, and 
for supplies. 

No one could deny the necessity that 
created these demands. The Japanese 
were not pursuing a plan that fitted into 
the Allied blueprint, and it was the 
Japanese advance, not Allied strategy, 
which dictated what must be done. But 
the mounting drain of the Pacific war 
on the limited resources of the Allies 
could, by the end of February, no longer 
be ignored. "Through a combination of 
circumstances," observed General Eisen- 
hower, the Chief of the War Plans 
Division, "we are being drawn into a 
deployment in the Southwest Pacific that 
far exceeds original planning objectives 
and which in the absence of powerful air 
and naval forces ... is not warranted." 54 

The immediate occasion for a review 
of the entire problem by the staff in 
Washington was the demand from almost 
every quarter for planes and more planes. 
Aircraft, especially heavy bombers, were, 
after shipping, perhaps the most critical 
of the Allied resources. The Australians 
wanted about soo P— 40's to meet the 
threat to Port Moresby; the New Zea- 
landers asked for bombers for the pro- 
tection of the Fijis; Admiral Leary 
needed a squadron of B-17's for his 
ANZAC force; and the Dutch, who were 
making ready for a last-ditch defense of 
Java, pressed hard for 72 fighters. 85 

"Memo, Eisenhower for Marshall, 28 Feb 4s, sub: 
Strategic Conceptions, OPD 384 PTO sec. 1, case 11. 

"The material in this section is treated fully in 
Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. V, pp. 1^8; 
Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-^/2, pp. 
156-64, 210-16, 221-27. 

In addition to these requests, there 
were other demands to be met by the 
Army. Its obligation in Hawaii had not 
been fulfilled, and there was from Ad- 
miral King a request that the Army fur- 
nish garrisons for two more islands in 
the South Pacific — Tongatabu in the 
Tonga Group, southeast of the Fijis, and 
Efate in the New Hebrides, between 
New Caledonia and the Solomons. The 
first would provide protection for the 
southern route from Samoa to Australia, 
the second an outpost for the defense of 
New Caledonia and the Fijis. "The 
Navy," complained General Eisenhower, 
"wants to take all the islands in the Pa- 
cific — have them held by Army troops, 
to become bases for Army pursuit and 
bombers. Then! the Navy will have a 
safe place to sail its vessels." 56 

Eisenhower's comment was indicative 
of a difference in view between the Army 
and Navy over the importance of the 
Pacific and the priority it should enjoy 
in the constant struggle for men and ma- 
teriel. The Army planners recognized 
fully the importance of Australia and 
the line of communications but consid- 
ered their retention as desirable rather 
than vital operations. Their support 
should be accomplished, they believed, 
with a minimum of effort, and priority 
should go to Europe to make possible an 
early offensive against Germany. "We've 
got to go to Europe and fight," wrote 
Eisenhower, "we've got to quit wasting 
resources all over the world — and still 
worse — wasting time." 57 

For the Navy, with its traditional in- 

■ Eisenhower Notations, 17 Feb 42, copy in OCMH; 
Memo, King, no addressee, 18 Feb 42, noted in Memo, 
Marshall for King, 24 Feb 42, sub: Garrison for Efate, 
OPD Exec Files. 

" Eisenhower Notations, 22 Jan 42, copy in OCMH. 



terest in the Pacific, that area held a 
greater importance than for the Army 
and its reinforcement had first priority. 
The safety of the line of communica- 
tions was essential to the fleet and until 
the Japanese threat to the islands along 
that line had been met — and for the 
Navy this threat was still a very live one 
— the naval planners considered the 
Allied position in the Pacific precarious. 
They did not wish to abandon the efforts 
to launch an early offensive in Europe, 
but felt strongly that until the danger 
was over the Pacific should have first call 
on American resources. There were ex- 
tremists on both sides, too, some who 
were willing to risk the loss of the South- 
west Pacific for the advantage of an early 
offensive against Germany, and others 
who would concentrate entirely on the 
Pacific, even if it meant the abandon- 
ment, for the time being, of the Atlantic 
theater. 58 

Despite this difference, Admiral King 
finally secured the garrisons he wanted 
for Efate and Tongatabu. For the former 
the Army furnished a reinforced infantry 
regiment, the 24th, numbering about 
5,000 men, and the Navy the aircraft and 
artillery (both Marine) . This force ar- 
rived early in May to relieve the small 
detachment Patch had sent up from New 
Caledonia to guard this important out- 
post. Later, a portion of the Efate gar- 
rison moved up to Espiritu Santo to 
build a bomber strip there. The Tonga- 
tabu garrison, composed of an infantry 
regiment (less one battalion) , a regi- 
ment of antiaircraft artillery, and a pur- 
suit squadron, plus a naval contingent, 
amounted to 8,200 men. It reached its 
destination on 14 May and began work 

"For these views and others, see the JPS 2 series, 
ABC 370 a-28-42).- 

immediately to construct a naval base 
and airfield. Like the Bora Bora force, 
which it greatly resembled, it was assem- 
bled and loaded in haste and paid the 
penalty in the difficulties it met when it 
began to debark. 59 

Meanwhile the review of strategy and 
deployment, which had begun on 11 
February with a directive from the Com- 
bined Chiefs, had almost run its course. 
The results were far from conclusive. 
About all the planners could agree on 
after a month of intensive study was a 
recommendation that the Joint Chiefs 
decide immediately "on a clear course of 
action," and then follow that course 
"with the utmost vigor." They did, 
however, suggest three possibilities, each 
representing substantially a view held at 
the outset of the debate, for the Joint 
Chiefs to choose from, thus leaving to 
their superiors the decision they were 
themselves unable to make. The Chiefs 
made their choice two days later, on 16 
March. The United States, they then 
agreed, should assemble in the United 
Kingdom the forces needed for an of- 
fensive "at the earliest practicable time," 
and provide for the Pacific only those 
forces allocated under "current commit- 
ments." This meant, in effect, that the 
Joint Chiefs would thereafter test the de- 
mands from the Pacific against the needs 
of the European theater and the priority 
of operations there.* 

"Memos, Marshall for King, 24 Feb 42, sub: Gar- 
risons for Efate; King for JCS, 2 Mar 42, sub: Defense 
of Tongatabu and Efate, ABC 381 (3-2^2)- 

"JPS 2/1 Directive to JUSSC, 1 1 Feb 42; Mins, CCS 
Mtg, 10 Feb 42; JPS 2/2, Review of Strategic Situa- 
tion in Japanese Theater, 18 Feb 42, with minority 
report JPS 2/2 (A); Mins, JPS Mtgs, 19, 21, 24 Feb 42; 
JPS 2/4 (D) Strategic Deployment, 24 Feb 42; JPS 2/5 
and 2/6, same title, 6 Mar 42; JCS 23, same title, 14 
Mar 4s; Mins, JCS Mtg, 16 Mar 42. All in ABC 370 
(1-28-^2) and CCS 281 (1-30-42). 



This policy had hardly been formu- 
lated when it became necessary to depart 
from it. On 5 March, when the situation 
in the Middle East appeared critical, 
Winston Churchill had asked Roosevelt 
if the United States would, among other 
things, send a division to Australia and 
one to New Zealand. In this way he 
hoped to retain in the Middle East those 
troops the Dominions wanted brought 
home for their own protection. After 
consulting his military advisers, Roose- 
velt agreed to the Prime Minister's pro- 
posal, subject to approval by the 
Australian and New Zealand Govern- 
ments. The Australians, who had cor- 
rectly diagnosed the Japanese plan to 
take Port Moresby and cut the line of 
communications, accepted this arrange- 
ment as a temporary solution to their 
difficulties. The War Department there- 
upon selected the 3 2d Division, already 
alerted for shipment to Ireland, for as- 
signment to Australia. It would arrive 
in May, and, with the 41st, scheduled to 
leave within the month, would place 
two American divisions in the Southwest 
Pacific. 61 

For New Zealand the Army planners 
picked the 37 th Division (Ohio National 
Guard) . Already that division's 147th 
Infantry Regiment (less one battalion) 
had been sent to Tongatabu, and in mid- 
April an advance detachment of eighty 
men left for New Zealand. The division 
itself was scheduled to sail late the next 
month. But before it left the President 
precipitated another comprehensive re- 
view of deployment to the Pacific by 

'-Memo, WPD for CofS, 5 Mar 42, sub: Answer to 
Prime Minister, OPD Exec Files; CCS 56 and 56/1, 
Prime Minister Msg, 5 and 6 Mar 42, ABC 311.5 
(1-30-42); Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 739, 
18 Mar 42, OPD MacArthur File. 

raising the question early in April of the 
defenses of Fiji and New Caledonia, a 
review that led to a change in the 
destination of the 37th Division. 

The discussions that followed the 
President's query made it clear that the 
differences which had split the planners 
before were still unresolved. The Navy, 
with a clear appreciation of Japanese 
intentions, persisted in its belief that 
the strength allocated to the Pacific, 
especially in aircraft, was inadequate to 
meet the danger there. The Army took 
a more optimistic view. While admitting 
the inadequacy of Allied air defenses in 
the Pacific, the Army planners asserted 
— at a time when the enemy was prepar- 
ing to move to Port Moresby, Tulagi, 
New Caledonia, the Fijis, and Midway 
— that the danger in the Pacific was not 
great enough to warrant the diversion of 
aircraft from the planned major effort in 
Europe. Failure to reinforce the Pacific, 
Army planners admitted, involved risks, 
but such risks, they insisted, must be 
taken in order to move against Germany. 

To these differing views were now 
added those of General MacArthur, re- 
cently arrived in Australia, reinforced by 
the representations of the Dominion 
governments. The second front, Mac- 
Arthur held, should be in the Pacific. 
Not only would an offensive there aid 
Russia by releasing the forces held down 
in Manchuria, he argued, but it would 
also protect Australia and India and 
have the enthusiastic support of the 
American people. 62 This proposal and 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 176, 8 May 42, 
CM-IN 2333; Memo, Capt John L. McCrea, naval 
aide to President, to JCS, 2 Apr 42, with JPS 21 ser., 
ABC 381 (1-22-42) Pacific Bases. The views of the 
Army and Navy planners can be found in the same 
file. Mins, JPS Mtgs, 4 and 6 Apr 42. 



others like it all added up to a strong 
plea for priority in the Pacific. 

The month-long debate that ensued 
raised sharply the entire question of 
strategy in the Pacific and its relation to 
the war against Germany. On the assump- 
tion that Japanese forces were capable 
of attacking the line of communications 
and that their next move would be in 
that direction, the Navy wished to 
strengthen each of the bases along that 
line with bombers and fighters. Mobile 
forces in Hawaii and Australia, the naval 
planners believed, would be unable to 
concentrate at the point of attack in time 
to prevent an enemy landing. The Navy 
had another reason for wanting to build 
up the forces along the line of commu- 
nications. Already it was planning to 
use these islands as bases for offensive 
operations and for the support of the 
fleet. "Given the naval forces, air units 
and amphibious forces," Admiral King 
told the President, "we can drive north- 
westward from the New Hebrides into 
the Solomons and the Bismarck Archi- 
pelago after the same fashion of step by 
step advances that the Japanese used in 
the South China Sea." 63 

The position taken by the Army and 
Air Force planners was that the area 
should be defended by mobile forces, 
with bombers based on the flanks, in 
Australia and Hawaii. There would thus 
be no necessity to pin down large forces 
on each of the islands. The line of com- 
munications, it was true, lacked defense 
in depth but that was preferable, the 
Army planners believed, to scattering the 
bombers needed for the projected air 
offensive against Germany. 84 

"Memo, King for President, 5 Mar 4s, no sub, OPD 
Exec Files. 

M JPS 21/7, Defense of Island Bases, 18 Apr 42, and 

MacArthur went even further than the 
Navy in his demands on Allied resources. 
Not only did he want reinforcements to 
hold his present position and a 100 per- 
cent increase in aircraft but also the 
forces required to conduct operations 
northward from Australia — three more 
divisions and aircraft carriers. In Wash- 
ington there was no intention of under- 
taking the kind of campaign MacArthur 
contemplated, which consisted esentially 
of an active and aggressive defense from 
Port Moresby rather than Australia it- 
self. His requests, therefore, were po- 
litely but firmly denied. But MacArthur 
was not one to accept defeat easily and 
with Prime Minister Curtin's support 
continued to press for reinforcements 
through other channels. Though this 
procedure brought him a reprimand — 
which the President softened by a gra- 
cious letter — it also brought the prob- 
lem forcibly to the attention of the 
highest authority. 65 

Plans for war against Germany had by 
early May created heavy requirements 
for men and materiel in the European 
theater that threatened to put a strong 
brake on Pacific deployment. In mid- 
April at a conference in London between 
American and British representatives, it 
had been agreed, largely at American 
insistence, that the Allies would begin 
planning immediately for an invasion of 
the Continent in 1943 (Roundup) . It 
was recognized, however, that action 
against Germany might have to be under- 

attached OPD Notes on JPS 13th Mtg, 22 Apr 42, 
ABC (1—22-42 sec. 2) Pacific Bases. 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, Nos. 739 and 1499, 
18 Mar and 26 Apr 42, OPD MacArthur File; Mac- 
Arthur to Marshall, Nos. 70470 and 588, 4 and 25 Apr 
and 1 May 42, CM-IN-6643 and 0186; Marshall to 
MacArthur, No. 31, 6 May 42, CM-OUT— 1136; Mac- 
Arthur to Marshall, No. 176, 8 May 42, CM-IN-2333. 



taken earlier in the event of disastrous 
Soviet reverses or some unexpected favor- 
able development that would present the 
Allies with an opportunity to exploit a 
weakness in the German position. To 
meet such a possibility, the Allies agreed 
on a contingency operation for the in- 
vasion of the Continent in the fall of 

1942 (Sledgehammer), by which time 
Pacific deployment would be largely 
completed. Forces for the invasion in 

1943 would be assembled in the British 
Isles on a schedule, worked out in great 
detail after the London Conference, that 
would place sufficient forces in Britain 
in time to meet the requirements of an 
emergency operation in the fall of 1942 
should that prove necessary or desirable. 
This build-up in the British Isles, which 
was known by the code name Bolero, 
became the basis for the planned 
deployment of forces to Europe. 66 

The competing demands of Europe 
and the Pacific came into sharp conflict 
early in May, after the President had 
expressed a desire, presumably in re- 
sponse to pressure from the Australian 
Prime Minister, to raise the number of 
ground troops planned for Australia 
from 25,000 to ioo,ooo. 67 This proposal 
created serious concern among the Army 
planners, and General Marshall, imme- 
diately on his return from a tour of 
inspection, protested directly to the 
President, pointing out that this diver- 
sion from Bolero would imperil the 
plans so recently made for the invasion 

"For a full discussion of the London Conference 
and the planning that followed, see Matloff and Snell, 
Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 183-91, passim, and 
Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 

ch. xrv. 

"Memo, McCrea for JCS, 1 May 42, sub: Aircraft 
and Troops for Australia, OPD Exec Files. 

of the Continent. 68 On 4 May, the entire 
problem was discussed at a meeting of 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Mar- 
shall held firmly to the position already 
stated by the Army planners that any 
increase in the forces already allotted to 
the Pacific would make Bolero impos- 
sible. The Joint Chiefs, he asserted, must 
therefore stoutly resist all demands from 
that theater, no matter how legitimate. 
Admiral King argued strongly against 
this view. Without denying the desira- 
bility of an early offensive in Europe, he 
insisted that the reinforcement of the 
Pacific was fully as important as Bolero, 
and more urgent. "We must not permit 
diversion of our forces to any proposed 
operation in any other theater," he 
argued, "to the extent that we find our- 
selves unable to fulfill our obligation to 
implement our basic strategic plan in the 
Pacific theater." This strategy he stated 
simply as holding "what we have against 
any attack" the Japanese could launch. 89 
The implications of such a strategy were 

Unable to reach agreement, the Joint 
Chiefs could only refer the matter to the 
President himself for decision, and on 6 
May General Marshall, after outlining 
his own and King's position, asked the 
Commander in Chief in effect to make 
the choice. The answer came two days 
later: "I do not want 'Bolero' slowed 
down." 70 The issue had finally been 
decided in favor of the Army. 

" Memo, CofS for President, 4 May 42, no sub, OPD 
Exec Files. 

"Memo, King for JCS, 4 May 4s, sub: Defense of 
Island Bases, JCS 48, app, to JCS Mins of that date. 

"Memo, President for Marshall, 6 May 42, no sub; 
CofS for President, same date, sub: Pacific Theater vs 
Bolero, JCS 48, ABC 381 {i-sa— 42) sec. 2 Pacific 



Though the President's decision meant 
that the Navy and General MacArthur 
would have to shelve, temporarily at 
least, their plans for offensive operations 
and a strong defense in depth, it did not 
halt the movement of troops and planes 
to the Pacific. Rather, it speeded up 
these movements, for the Army, having 
won the victory, was anxious to meet its 
commitments promptly. "Since we have 
won our point," Eisenhower wrote Gen- 
eral Arnold on 8 May, "it is my opinion 
we should reach and maintain the 
amounts indicated ... as quickly as pos- 
sible." Arnold agreed and listed the num- 
ber of planes he expected to have in the 
Pacific by 1 July. 71 

This determination to bring the forces 
in the Pacific to their authorized strength 
did not solve all the problems that had 
been raised during the course of the 
debate. One of these was the defense of 
the Fijis, then garrisoned by New Zea- 
land troops and an American pursuit 
squadron. It was General Marshall who 
proposed a solution which would meet 
the need for stronger forces in the Fijis 
without requiring additional troops. The 
37th Division, which had been promised 
to New Zealand in return for the reten- 
tion of the Dominion's troops in the 
Middle East, could be sent instead to the 
Fijis, Marshall suggested, thus releasing 
almost 10,000 New Zealand troops for 
the defense of the Dominion. Admiral 
King raised no objections to this pro- 
posal and it was quickly adopted by the 
Joint Chiefs and approved by the Presi- 
dent. The New Zealand Government 
accepted this arrangement, too, in re- 
turn for an agreement that the United 

States would assume strategic responsi- 
bility for the defense of the Fijis. Orders 
for the 37th Division were hurriedly 
changed, and early in June the first de- 
tachment landed at Suva. Since it had 
proved impossible to collect in so short 
a time the additional troops required 
for a balanced garrison force, the rest of 
the 37th went on to New Zealand where 
an Army port detachment had already 
gone to handle its debarkation. 72 

New Zealand's demands had been sat- 
isfied without altering the basic strategy 
but there was no way of meeting the 
demands from Australia without aban- 
doning or delaying Bolero. All of Mr. 
Curtin's appeals to Washington and Lon- 
don, and MacArthur's requests to the 
War Department came up against the 
hard fact that the planners did not be- 
lieve Australia was in imminent danger 
of invasion or that the time had come 
for offensive operations in that theater. 
The best that Churchill and Roosevelt 
could offer was admiration for the ag- 
gressive spirit which prompted the re- 
quests for troops and assurances of 
support if a real threat developed. Mean- 
while, the President told MacArthur, 
every effort would be made to send him 
"all the air strength we possibly can." 
To do more, as Marshall had pointed 
out, would make the Southwest Pacific 
the principal theater of operations. Mac- 
Arthur would have to do with what he 
had, at least for the present. 73 

Though the President's decision of 8 

"Memos, Eisenhower for Arnold, 8 May 42, no sub, 
OPD 381 case 62; Arnold for Eisenhower, 14 May 42, 
no sub, OPD 381 PTO, case 21. 

"Mins, JCS Mtg, 4 May 42; Joint Army-Navy Plan 
for Fijis, 13 May 42; Memo, COMINCH for N. Z. 
Minister, 9 May 42, same sub, both in OPD 381 Fiji. 
See also Leigh ton and Coakley, Global Logistics and 
Strategy, p. 178. 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, 3 May 42, CM-IN- 
0667; Ltr, M arshall to Dill, 22 May 42, O PP Exec 
Files; Milner, Victory in Papua, pp. 29-32. 


Table 4 — Army Strength in Pacific, April 1942" 



En Route 





















Bora Bora 

Canton _ -- 






New Caledonia 

Suva . 

Tongatabu - 

New Zealand . 

Efate ... 

°Excludes strength in Philippines where forces surrendered in May 1942. 
Source: Adapted from Chart 2, Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning 1941—42. 

May, made two days after the Port 
Moresby invasion force had left Rabaul, 
had eased temporarily the heavy drain 
of the Pacific on Allied resources, it was, 
in a sense, a tribute to the enormous 
progress made by the Army and Navy 
under the most adverse conditions in 
building up the defenses of the Pacific in 
the short period of five months. At the 
start of the war, the United States had in 
the Pacific only two garrisons of any 
size, Hawaii and the Philippines. By the 
beginning of May, despite defeat and 
disaster and the decision to concentrate 
on the war in Europe, Hawaii had been 
considerably reinforced, the defenses of 
Australia and New Zealand bolstered 
with American ground troops and air- 
craft, and a chain of island bases estab- 
lished along the line of communications. 
In the area, or scheduled soon to arrive, 
were over 250,000 Army ground and air 

troops (exclusive of the Philippine gar- 
rison) . Ground forces included six di- 
visions and Task Force 6184, soon to be 
organized into the Americal Division, 
the equivalent of almost three separate 
infantry regiments, a large number of 
coast and antiaircraft artillery units, and 
service troops of all types. (Table 4) 
Each of the island bases had at least one 
pursuit squadron, but most of the air as 
well as the ground strength in the Pacific 
was concentrated in Australia and Ha- 
waii. The former had 41 heavy bombers, 
150 light and medium bombers, and 
about 475 fighters; the latter about 30 
heavy bombers and considerably fewer 
aircraft of other types. Both were still 
short of the authorized goals, especially 
in heavy bombers. This weakness con- 
stituted the main complaint of the Navy 
and was to be one of the chief problems 
in the Pacific in the months to come. 


The U.S. and Japanese High Commands 

An army is of little value in the field unless there are wise counsels at 
home. Cicero 

During the early months of the war, 
while the Japanese tide of victory was 
flowing strong, the Allies had already 
begun to look to the future. Though the 
effort to defend the Malay Barrier had 
failed, the Allies had hurriedly sent re- 
inforcements to hold Australia, Hawaii, 
and the island chain across the Pacific. 
Already, plans were maturing to build 
a base in Australia and to develop air 
and naval bases along the line of com- 
munications. It was still too early to 
predict the course of operations once the 
Allies were in a position to take the ini- 
tiative, but it was not too soon to prepare 
for that time. Thus, while bases were 
being established and forces deployed to 
the Pacific, the Allies began to organize 
for the offensive ahead. 

The first step in preparing for an 
offensive was to develop an Allied organ- 
ization to co-ordinate the efforts of the 
Allies, and within this framework to 
devise a mechanism for planning and co- 
ordinating operations on many fronts. 
In this the British had the advantage of 
an early start, and a combined staff was 
quickly formed. The American counter- 
part of this organization, the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff, took shape more slowly. Utiliz- 
ing existing organizations and staffs, the 
Americans developed during the months 

after Pearl Harbor a mechanism for di- 
recting the U.S. war effort that lasted, 
with modifications, until the end of the 
war. For the Pacific, which was to be- 
come an area of U.S. responsibility, this 
Washington organization became in effect 
a supreme command. 

The organization of the Japanese mili- 
tary high command, perfected before the 
war, was, on the surface, not unlike that 
of the United States. The commander in 
chief of the Japanese armed forces was 
the head of the state, the Emperor. 
Under him was Imperial General Head- 
quarters with its Army and Navy Sec- 
tions — there was no separate air service 
— which prepared and co-ordinated the 
operations of forces in the field. The 
Army and Navy Ministers sat in the 
Cabinet and civilian agencies directed 
the war effort on the home front. But 
this organization, superficially so similar 
to the American, could not conceal the 
fact that Japan was a military dictator- 
ship in which the civilian officials exer- 
cised little real authority and the 
Emperor was but a symbol. 

The Washington Command Post 

At the Arcadia Conference in Wash- 
ington, it will be recalled, the first steps 



had been taken toward establishment of 
a combined U.S.— British organization 
for the conduct of the war. 1 It had been 
decided then that the Combined Chiefs 
of Staff would be located in Washington, 
where the British Chiefs would be repre- 
sented by a Joint Staff Mission. During 
the months that followed the combined 
organization began to take shape and the 
functions of the Combined Chiefs were 
more clearly delineated. By the early 
summer of ig42 this process was largely 

The American side of the Allied high 
command developed more slowly. The 
old Joint Board with its Joint Planning 
Committee had neither the authority 
nor the organization to meet the chal- 
lenges of global war (or of the British 
committee system) , and it gave way 
gradually to the emergent Joint Chiefs 
of Staff. Membership in the two bodies, 
though similar, was not identical. The 
former had consisted of the service chiefs, 
their deputies, and the heads of the War 
Plans Division and air arms of the two 
services. Since December 1941, Admiral 
King as commander of the U.S. Fleet, 
though not a member, had also sat with 
the Joint Board, whose presiding officer 
at the time was the Chief of Naval Op- 
erations, Admiral Stark. During the 
Arcadia meeting the term U.S. Chiefs 
of Staff, employed to designate a group 
comparable to the British Chiefs, had 
referred to four men — Admiral Stark, 
General Marshall, Admiral King, and 
General Arnold. The last two were not 
chiefs of a service and one of them was not 
even a member of the Joint Board, but 
their inclusion was considered necessary 
to balance the British representation. 

Within the next few months, the 
membership of the Joint Chiefs, which 
was established on 9 February, was re- 
examined and took final form. General 
Marshall's position was not affected, 
except that as a result of the reorganiza- 
tion of the War Department in March 
1942 his authority as Chief of Staff, U.S. 
Army, was enhanced. General Arnold's 
position as commander of the newly 
formed semiautonomous Army Air 
Forces also increased his stature in the 
Joint Chiefs, although he remained Mar- 
shall's subordinate and thus not in the 
same position in combined councils as 
the British air chief who was head of a 
separate service. 

The Navy also underwent reorganiza- 
tion in March designed to streamline it 
for the war ahead. One of the effects of 
this reorganization was to consolidate the 
functions of the Chief of Naval Opera- 
tions and Commander in Chief, United 
States Fleet, and at Admiral Stark's 
behest Admiral King was placed in 
supreme command of all professional 
activities of the Navy. 2 This change was 
formally recognized in an Executive 
Order of 12 March which assigned King 
to both commands, designated him as 
the principal naval adviser to the Presi- 
dent, and gave him a greater degree of 
control, over the bureaus than had ever 
been exercised by any Chief of Naval 
Operations. 3 In addition, he was given 
two strong assistants, a Vice Chief of 
Naval Operations, and a Deputy 
Commander for the U.S. Fleet. 

The effects of these moves, though 

'See above, pp. 164—66 

•Davis, Origins of JCS and CCS, I, 350-51. 

•Admiral Stark was relieved as Chief of Naval Op- 
erations on a6 March 1942 and appointed Com- 
mander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe. 



they greatly increased the authority of 
the Chiefs within their services, was to 
reduce the membership of the Joint 
Chiefs by one. But already a move was 
under way to add another, one who 
would represent the President much as 
Maj. Gen. Sir Hastings Ismay represented 
Churchill on the British Chiefs, and 
because he represented no service, could 
serve as an impartial chairman. The 
President, at first cool to the idea, was 
finally convinced of the advantages of 
such an arrangement and on Marshall's 
suggestion designated Admiral William 
D. Leahy as his own chief of staff. 4 No 
appointment could have been better cal- 
culated to add weight to the Joint Chiefs 
and to cement relations with the White 
House. Admiral Leahy, after serving as 
Chief of Naval Operations, had retired 
from the Navy in August 1939. Since 
then he had served as Governor of 
Puerto Rico and Ambassador to the 
French Government at Vichy. In June 
1942, he returned to the United States, 
and on 18 July was recalled to active 
duty and designated Chief of Staff to the 
Commander in Chief — a post without 
precedent in American history. With 
this appointment, the membership of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff was fixed for the 
duration of the war. 

The charter of the Combined Chiefs 
approved at Arcadia had specifically pro- 
vided for a planning staff, the Combined 
Staff Planners, and had even named the 
officers who would compose that body. 5 

4 For an account of this appointment, see Davis, 
Origins of JCS and CCS, pp. 378-85; William D. 
Leahy, / Was There (New York: Whittlesey House, 
1950), pp. 96-97; Ltr, Secy of War to President, 20 
Mar 42, WDCSA032. 

*U.S. ABC-4/CS4, 14 Jan 42, sub: PosI-Arcadia 
Collaboration. This description of the joint organ- 

The senior members on the American 
side, the Joint Staff Planners (J PS) , 
were Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow and 
Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner, Chiefs 
of the Army and Navy War Plans Divi- 
sion — both members of the Joint Board 
and, simultaneously, of that agency's 
Joint Planning Committee. In this latter 
capacity, they directed the work of the 
Joint Strategic Committee, composed of 
at least three officers from each of the 
War Plans Divisions, whose task it was 
to work on joint war plans, and of vari- 
ous ad hoc committees formed to study 
other problems as they arose. It was nat- 
ural that this organization should be 
taken over bodily by the Joint Chiefs, 
and for a time it served both bodies 

This system had its disadvantages, and 
membership of the Joint Staff Planners 
was soon changed. The Navy kept its 
chief planner, Admiral Turner, on the 
committee, but gave him two assistants, 
one of them an air officer. Probably 
because of the heavier burdens of the 
Chief of the Army's War Plans Division, 
Gerow's successor, General Eisenhower, 
designated the head of the division's 
Strategy and Policy Group, Col. Thomas 
T. Handy, as the Army member of the 
Joint Staff Planners instead of assuming 
the post himself. 6 The air representative 

ization for planning is based upon Davis, Origins of 
JCS and CCS, pp. 324-85, and its sequel, vol. II in 
Hist of JCS Organization in World War II, Develop- 
ment of the JCS Committee Structure, pp. 3861-590; 
Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post:The Oper- 
ations Division UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1951), chs. VI and 
VIII; Craven and Cate, AAF 1, pp. 251—56. 

•Admiral Turner was replaced as chief naval plan- 
ner by Rear Adm. Charles M. Cooke, Jr., in June 
when Turner left to command the South Pacific Am- 
phibious Force. General Handy's successor was Brig. 
Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer. 



Joint Chiefs of Staff. From left: Admiral King, General Marshall, Admiral Leahy, and 
General Arnold. 

initially was Maj. Gen. Carl Spaatz, and, 
after the March reorganization of the 
War Department, the Assistant Chief of 
Staff for Plans of the new Army Air 
Force. Other members were added, from 
time to time — an additional member in 
August to even the Army and Navy rep- 
resentation, and then seven more mem- 
bers with varying status to represent 
logistical interests. Clearly this was not 
a committee of equals. The senior Army 
and Navy planners were its leading 
members and by virtue of seniority, offi- 
cial position, and access to the chiefs of 
their services their views were generally 
binding on the other members of the 

The work of the Joint Staff Planners 
was broad and varied, ranging from 
global strategy to the allocation of minor 
items of supply and encompassing not 
only strategic but also operational, logis- 
tic, and administrative aspects. Obvi- 

ously, the group was too unwieldy and 
too diverse in its composition to handle 
all the problems that came before it. 
Most of its work was farmed out to sub- 
ordinate committees, the two senior 
members controlling the assignments. 
Most of these subcommittees were ad 
hoc, formed for a particular task and 
composed of planning officers and staff 
experts drawn from the two services by 
the chief Army and Navy planners. Only 
the Joint Strategic Committee, which 
had been taken over from the Joint 
Board and redesignated the Joint U.S. 
Strategic Committee (JUSSC) , had a 
recognized status and membership as the 
working group for the Joint Planners. 
Assigned to it full time were eight senior 
and highly qualified officers, four each 
from the Army and the Navy War Plans 
Divisions. One of the Army representa- 
tives was an Air Forces officer and the 
Navy's contingent usually included a 



Marine officer. The committee's char- 
ter, as defined by the Joint Chiefs, called 
upon it to "prepare such strategical esti- 
mates, studies and plans" as the JPS 
directed, and, in addition, to initiate 
studies at its own discretion. 7 It was 
natural, therefore, for the Joint Staff 
Planners to rely heavily on the JUSSC, 
especially in the field of broad strategy, 
and to invite its members to sit with 
them from time to time. 

The role of the JUSSC in planning 
proved to be quite different from that 
envisaged by those of its members who 
placed somewhat more emphasis on their 
strategic responsibilities than did their 
superiors. Much of the committee's 
work proved to be routine, concerned 
with relatively minor matters, and so 
heavy was the load that it had no time 
left to study problems it considered more 
important in the conduct of the war. 
Moreover, some of its members thought 
it would be more appropriately and 
profitably employed in the study of 
future strategy than in routine matters 
of troop deployment, production priori- 
ties shipping schedules, and the like. 8 

There was much merit in this view. 
Certainly there was a need for long-range 
studies, for a group of senior and experi- 
enced Army and Navy planners, free 
from the burdens of day-to-day problems, 
who would devote their time to the 
larger issues of the war, to future strategy 
and political-military questions. But who 
was best qualified to advise the Joint 
Chiefs on these high-level matters? One 
view was that this should be done by a 

'JCS 14, 27 Feb 42, sub: Proposed Directive to JIC 
and JUSSC; Mins, JCS Mtg, 9 Mar 42. 

" Memo, Col. Ray T. Maddocks for Handy, 9 Jul 42, 
sub: The JSSC, ABC 020 (ig Jul 42) sec. 3-J-A. 

reconstituted JUSSC reporting directly 
to the Joint Chiefs and consisting of four 
flag or general officers representing the 
Army, Navy, Army Air Forces, and the 
Navy air arm. Another proposal for uti- 
lizing the JUSSC more effectively in 
strategic planning was to reduce its mem- 
bership to four senior officers with two 
assistants for each of its members and 
charge it with responsibility, under the 
Joint Staff Planners, for co-ordinating 
the preparation of plans in support of 
the basic strategy, reviewing these plans, 
and developing recommendations for 
changes in the basic strategy. If neither 
of these proposals was acceptable, then 
the JUSSC, said one of its members, 
ought to be redesignated the "Joint 
Working Committee" of the JPS in 
frank recognition of its present function. 

The Joint Chiefs considered this prob- 
lem very carefully over a period of several 
meetings in the fall of 1942. There was 
no disagreement with Marshall's assertion 
of the need for "an organization, with 
sufficient prestige and disassociated from 
current operations, which can obtain a 
good perspective by being allowed time 
for profound deliberations." 9 In his 
view, an entirely new organization should 
be created to meet this need. The possi- 
bility of using the deputy chiefs of the 
services for this purpose, an arrangement 
that would permit the Joint Chiefs to 
leave decisions on minor matters to the 
new committee, was discussed at some 
length. The solution finally adopted 
represented a combination of the various 
proposals. To satisfy the need for a 

"Quoted in Davis, Development of the JCS Com- 
mittee Structure, p. 553. These discussions are re- 
corded in the JCS minutes of 20 and 27 October, 3 
November, 8 and 10 December 1942. 



high-level group of planners, the Joint 
Chiefs formed a new committee, called 
the Joint Strategic Survey Committee 
(JSSC)— not related to the JUSSC— con- 
sisting of three flag or general officers, 
assigned to full time duty. Reporting 
only to the Joint Chiefs, these officers 
would have no duties other than to re- 
flect on basic strategy and the long-range 
implications of immediate events and 
decisions. No sources of information 
were to be denied them and they could, 
if they desired, attend any meeting of 
the Joint or Combined Chiefs of Staff and 
of Joint or Combined Staff Planners. 10 

This was to be truly a committee of 
"elder statesmen," and the appointments 
made fully bore out this intention of the 
Joint Chiefs. Representing the Army 
was Lt. Gen. Stanley D. Embick, who 
had been associated with strategic plan- 
ning throughout a long and distinguished 
career. Vice Adm. Russell Willson rep- 
resented the Navy, though he had to be 
relieved of his important duties as Dep- 
uty Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, to 
serve on the committee. The Army Air 
Forces member was Maj. Gen. Muir S. 
Fairchild, recognized as an officer of 
exceptional ability and breadth of view. 
With this membership, unchanged 
throughout the war, the Joint Strategic 
Survey Committee began its existence in 
November 1942. 

The creation of the JSSC solved only 
one of the problems facing the Joint 
Chiefs. Still needed was a group that 
could act for them on minor matters and 
could represent them on various govern- 

"JCS 149/D, 1 Nov 42, sub: Charter of the JSSC. 
The charter authorized four members, two from the 
Army and two from the Navy, but the Navy never 
named a fourth member. 

mental bodies where military advice was 
required. The idea of a committee con- 
sisting of the Deputy Chiefs of Staff, 
originally proposed as an alternative to 
the JSSC, seemed an admirable solution 
to this problem. Thus came into exist- 
ence the Joint Deputy Chiefs of Staff 
(JDCS) , consisting initially of Lt. Gen. 
Joseph T. McNarney, Vice Adm. Fred- 
erick J. Home, and Maj. Gen. George 
E. Stratemeyer. 11 

But the problem of the Joint U.S. 
Strategic Committee was still unresolved. 
The role the members of the committee 
had envisaged for themselves had now be- 
come the province of -the elder statesmen 
of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee. 
Moreover, the former had been engaged 
since August 1942 on future strategy for 
the defeat of Japan. In addition, it was 
directed late in November to prepare a 
long-range study for the employment of 
United Nations forces for the defeat of 
both Germany and Japan, to be co- 
ordinated with British studies on the 
same problem. Since the Joint Strategic 
Survey Committee was engaged in simi- 
lar studies, the need for a review of the 
duties of the JUSSC was more urgent 
than ever. Various proposals had been 
put forward, but by the end of 1942 no 
change had been made. When it came 
in May 1943, it was accompanied by a 
reorganization of the entire JCS 
structure. 1 * 

The work of the Joint Chiefs was sup- 
ported by a variety of other committees, 
some of which functioned purely in a 
joint capacity and some as the U.S. com- 
ponent of committees of the Combined 
Chiefs. Intelligence activities were under 

JCS i64/D, 1 1 Dec 4 a, sub: Functions of the JDCS. 
See below, b. 455. | 



the purview of the -Joint Intelligence 
Committee (JIC), which had been taken 
over from the Joint Board at the same 
time as the JUSSC. In recognition of 
the role of psychological warfare in mod- 
ern war, a separate committee (JPWC) 
was formed to advise the Joint Chiefs on 
this subject. The Office of Strategic 
Services was also a part of the joint com- 
mittee system, directly responsible for 
certain matters to the Joint Chiefs and 
for others to the JIC and the JPWC. 
Additional committees advised on com- 
munications, weather, new weapons 
and equi pment, and transportation. 
(Chart })\ 

Within the War Department, strategic 
planning and the co-ordination of mili- 
tary operations were centered in the 
Operations Division of the General Staff, 
successor to the old War Plans Division 
whose functions it absorbed in March 
1942. In a very real sense, the Opera- 
tions Division was General Marshall's 
command post, the agency through which 
he exercised control over and co-ordi- 
nated the vast activities of the Army in 
World War II. All strategic planning in 
the War Department was done within 
the Operations Division, or tunneled 
through it, and its officers represented 
the Army on virtually every major com- 
bined and joint committee. Any matters 
that might affect strategy or operations 
came to it, and its roster included Iogis- 
ticians as well as ground and air officers. 
So varied were its functions that General 
Wedemeyer was able to inform a British 
officer of the Joint Staff Mission that 
"your Washington contact agency is now 
the Executive Officer, Operations Divi- 
sion, War Department General Staff. He 
will be able to refer you directly to the 
proper section for solution of any prob- 

lems presented." 13 In effect, it was a 
general staff within the general staff. 

The organization of the Operations 
Division was tailored closely to its duties 
and the needs of the Chief of Staff. 
Under Eisenhower, its chief from Feb- 
ruary to June 1942, it was organized 
into three major groups — planning, op- 
erations, and logistics — and an Executive 
Office. The first, called the Strategy and 
Policy Group, was the one most inti- 
mately concerned with joint and com- 
bined planning, and was responsible for 
matters of general strategy, the prepara- 
tion of studies, plans, and estimates, and 
the issuance of directives for theater and 
task force commanders. Its chief was the 
Army member of the Joint Staff Plan- 
ners and from it came the representa- 
tives of the JUSSC. It had a section that 
dealt with future operations only, an- 
other with strategy, and one with sub- 
jects that came up for discussion at the 
combined level. 

The co-ordination of operations with- 
in the Operations Division was handled 
by the Theater (Operations) Group. 
This was the largest of the groups, and 
was organized ultimately into sections 
corresponding to the various theaters of 
operations and serving in effect as Wash- 
ington echelons of these theater head- 
quarters. It was this group that kept in 
close touch with theater problems, di- 
rected the movement of troops overseas, 
and co-ordinated all War Department 
activities relating to theater require- 
ments- For Pacific matters there were 
two sections, the Pacific and the South- 

", Wedemeyer to Maj E. H. Baume, BJSM, 15 
Jun 48, quoted in Cline, Washington Command Post, 
p. 122. This account of the Operations Division is 
drawn very largely from this volume, especially 
Chapter VIII. 

Chart 3 — The Washington High Command and the Pacific Theaters, December 1942 


Joint Deputy 
Chiefs of Staff 


Joint Strategic 
Survey Committee 

Joint Staff 

Joint Military 

joint U.S. Strategic 



Joint Committee 
and Equipment 

Joint Communications 


Combined Chiefs of Staff 


Joint Chiefs of Staff 

British Staff Mission 

Joint Staff 

Combined Staff 


Secy of 

'Replaced by Joint War Plans Committee, May 1943 



U.S. Fleet 



Fleet Staff 






CNO Staff 


Shore Establishment 




Task Force 

Secy of 

Chief of Staff 

| General and Special Staff ^ — 

Pacific Ocean Areas 

Pacific Fleet 


Sea Frontier 


---------- Administration and Supply 

• ••••••• Composition 

Fleet Forces 


| Hawaiian Dept 



Amphibious I 
Force 1 


1 CG U.S. Army 
I Forces 

Southwest Pacific 

British Chiefs of Staff 

Joint Staff 

Division, WDGS 

Strategy and 
Policy Group 

— Theater Group 



1 1 1 

Task Forces 



Air Forces 










U.S. Ground 

Air Forces 




west Pacific Theater Sections, headed 
from mid- 1942 to mid- 1944 by Cols. 
Carl D. Silverthorne and William L. 
Ritchie. Both these officers made fre- 
quent trips to the theaters and were con- 
stantly called upon by the theater 
commanders and by the planners in 
Washington for assistance and advice on 
theater problems. 

In recognition of the intimate relation- 
ship between logistics and strategy, and 
the dependence of operations on man- 
power, weapons, equipment, and trans- 
portation, the Operations Division had a 
Logistics Group. This group did not par- 
ticipate in logistical planning or in the 
manifold activities related to supply of 
Army forces; these were the functions of 
G-4 and of the Army Service Forces under 
General Somervell. What it did instead 
was to view these matters from the stra- 
tegic level in order to advise General 
Marshall on their implications when de- 
cision by the Chief of Staff became nec- 
essary. It was in a unique position to do 
so because of its access to the planners 
and theater experts in the division, and 
its members represented the Army on a 
variety of committees, both military and 

The Navy Department organization 
for strategic planning and direction of 
operations was not as highly centralized 
as the War Department organization. 
The reason for this difference lay partly 
in Admiral King's dual status as Chief 
of Naval Operations (CNO) and Com- 
mander in Chief, United States Fleet 
(COMINCH). In the former capacity 
he was responsible for "the preparation, 
readiness and logistic support of the 
operating forces" of the Navy — its fleets, 
shore establishments, sea frontiers, and 
all seagoing forces. But as COMINCH, 

in which capacity he was the supreme 
commander of all operating forces of the 
Navy, Admiral King was responsible for 
execution of the plans he helped to 
shape. To meet his dual responsibilities, 
King formed two separate staff organiza- 
tions, each of which maintained its own 
planning office. 14 

In his role as CNO, Admiral King had 
ultimately six principal assistants, a Vice 
Chief of Naval Operations, a Sub Chief, 
a Deputy for Air Operations, and three 
assistant chiefs. One of these last officers 
was Director of the War Plans Division 
and the principal strategic adviser of the 
Chief of Naval Operations. This office, 
comparable in prewar days and in the 
first months of the war to the Army's 
War Plans Division, was responsible for 
the preparation of basic war plans, and 
of plans for the development and main- 
tenance of naval forces for war. In pre- 
war days, its director had been a member 
of the Joint Board, and its officers had 
represented the Navy on the Joint Plan- 
ning Committee, the Aeronautical 
Board, and other joint groups. When 
war came most of its strategic planning 
functions were assumed by other offices. 
Finally in 1943, it was redesignated the 
Logistical Plans Division in recognition 
of the fact that its functions were limited 
to logistical planning and co-ordination. 
Thus, the Navy War Plans Division de- 
veloped in a way quite different from the 
Army's War Plans Division and, instead 
of becoming a super general staff, dimin- 
ished in importance to become ultimately 
an office under the Assistant Chief of 
Naval Operations for Logistic Plans. 

"This account of naval organization is drawn prin- 
cipally from The National Archives, Federal Records 
of World War II, vol II, Military Agencies 
(Washington, 1951), pp. 571-602. 



It was in his role as Commander in 
Chief, United States Fleet, that Admiral 
King performed most of his duties as a 
member of the Joint and Combined 
Chiefs. Thus, it was the fleet staff, under 
a Deputy Commander and Chief of 
Staff, that assumed most of the burdens 
of strategic planning and direction of 
naval operations. For each of these func- 
tions, planning and operations, there 
was a separate division — the Plans Divi- 
sion and the Operations Division. The 
last, as the name implies, was concerned 
with the operations of fleets and naval 
forces and kept a constant check on their 
organization, combat readiness, and 
movements. Through this division, 
Admiral King maintained close contact 
with his fleet and force commanders, 
both surface and air, and exercised con- 
trol over their operations. In general, 
this office performed the same functions 
as the Theater Group of the Army's 
Operations Division but none of the 
other functions of that division. 

The chief responsibility for strategic 
planning in the Navy resided in the 
Plans Division, Headquarters, Com- 
mander in Chief, United States Fleet. 
Like the Logistic Plans Division, CNO, 
it had its origins in the prewar War 
Plans Division, part of whose functions 
were transferred to the fleet staff in Jan- 
uary 1942. When the two offices of CNO 
and COMINCH were combined in 
March 1942, the Plans Division was as- 
signed additional responsibilities. Thus, 
it became the source for current and 
long-range strategic plans for the Navy, 
and its officers became the chief naval 
representatives on the various joint and 
combined committees. It was the director 
of this division, first Admiral Turner 
and then Admiral Cooke, who was the 

naval member of the Joint and Com- 
bined Staff Planners, as was his chief 
planner, usually a naval air officer. 
Other officers in the division sat on the 
Joint U.S. Strategic Committee and on 
various joint ad hoc committees as they 
were formed. The division's main task 
was the preparation of estimates, studies, 
and plans for joint and combined forces, 
but it served also, much as did the Army's 
Operations Division, as the co-ordinating 
agency for implementing joint plans and 
for liaison with other planning offices in 
the Navy Department and with the War 
Department General Staff. 

The Japanese High Command 

The Japanese high command, cen- 
tered in Tokyo, was headed by the 
Emperor. Under the Japanese constitu- 
tion, the Army and Navy were responsi- 
ble solely to the Emperor, and the Chiefs 
of Staff of the two services, as imperial 
advisers, had direct access to the throne. 
The Emperor also received military 
counsel from two advisory bodies, the 
Board of Marshals and Fleet Admirals 
and the Supreme War Council. But the 
first exercised little influence and the 
second was consulted only on adminis- 
trative matters. Real authority and con- 
trol lay in the hands of the general staff 
and was exercised solely through the 
Chiefs of Staff. They alone were respon- 
sible for strategy and planning, and for 
the direction of operations. 15 

"This section is based on a study prepared for the 
author by Stanley L. Falk, OCMH. The major sources 
used in its preparation included: Imperial GHQ 
Army High Command Record, Japanese Studies in 
World War II, 72; Hattori, The Greater East Asia 
War; Japanese Operations in SWPA; Maxon, Control 
of Japanese Foreign Policy, 



The organization of the Army and 
Navy General Staffs, with certain impor- 
tant exceptions, was similar. The Army 
staff was the larger, reflecting the greater 
power of its Chief of Staff and his con- 
trol over training and other activities not 
shared by his naval colleague. It was 
organized into bureaus, the most impor- 
tant of which were the ist (Operations), 
2d (Intelligence) , 3d (Transportation 
and Communications), and General Af- 
fairs Bureau. The main Navy staff con- 
sisted also of numbered bureaus, but the 
numbers did not correspond to those in 
the Army. The bureaus of both services, 
corresponding to G-Sections of Western 
general staffs, were usually headed by 
general and flag officers who exercised 
considerable influence on strategy and 

The conduct of the war was nominally 
in the hands of Imperial General Head- 
quarters, acting directly under the au- 
thority of the Emperor. Representing 
the Army and Navy Chiefs of Staff and 
the War and Navy Ministries, Imperial 
General Headquarters was divided into 
the Army and Navy Sections, each acting 
independently. Army Section met in the 
Army General Staff offices, Navy Section 
in its own offices. At joint meetings, 
held about twice a week on the Imperial 
Palace grounds, both Chiefs of Staff pre- 
sided. The Emperor occasionally attend- 
ed these meetings, but rarely those of the 
individual service staffs. 

The main weakness of Imperial Gen- 
eral Headquarters was that it was not a 
single joint command, even an imperfect 
one. Rather it was a facade to cover two 
separate organizations with strong com- 
peting interests and rivalries. Army and 
Navy plans were developed separately in 
the Operations Bureaus of the General 

Staffs, and plans and operations orders 
were issued not from Imperial General 
Headquarters as such but rather from its 
Army Section or its Navy Section. Joint 
operations were conducted by means of 
agreements between the Army and Navy, 
and separate orders were issued to Army 
and Navy commanders. Often Army- 
Navy disagreement over a proposed joint 
operation might result in delay or even 
the abandonment of the operation. Even 
when agreement was reached, the opera- 
tion would normally be carried out not 
by a joint commander, but by separate 
Army and Navy commanders who would 
"co-operate" with each other under the 
terms of an Army-Navy "agreement." 
On the rare occasions that saw the estab- 
lishment of a joint operational command, 
supplies were still delivered through 
separate service channels, with conse- 
quent duplication, oversights, and 
mutual recriminations. 

In the absence of any leadership on 
the part of the Emperor, the Army and 
Navy went their separate ways. But the 
Army was clearly the leading service. 
The position of General Tojo as both 
Premier and War Minister, along with 
his other Cabinet positions, undoubtedly 
lent the Army increased prestige, and 
Admiral Shigetaro Shimada, the Navy 
Minister during most of .the war, fol- 
lowed a policy of trying to co-operate 
with the Army. There was, nevertheless, 
no co-ordinated Army-Navy policy. As 
one former Navy Minister put it, "As 
far as questions of Army operations are 
concerned, if the Chief of the Army Gen- 
eral Staff says that we will do this, that 
is the end of it; and as far as the Navy 
operations are concerned, if the Chief 
of the Navy General Staff says we will do 
this, that fixes it; and should there de- 



velop difference of opinion between the 
two chiefs, then nothing can be accom- 
plished." 16 This division was a major 
weakness in Japan's military establish- 
ment. The Japanese were well aware of 
this, and late in the war General Tojo 
proposed a real merger of Army and 
Navy Sections, a proposal that came to 

The link between Imperial General 
Headquarters and the Cabinet was the 
Liaison Conference. This conference, 
initiated briefly in 1937 after the re- 
establishment of Imperial General Head- 
quarters, was resumed in 1940 and 
continued throughout the war. It had 
no formal status or authority, but was 
merely a framework for discussions be- 
tween the civil government and the 
military authorities. The participants 
were the Chiefs of Staff, the Army and 
Navy Ministers (themselves active duty 
officers and largely under the control of 
the Chiefs of Staff) , the Premier, and 
such other ministers as might be neces- 
sary. Also present were the Cabinet sec- 
retary and the chiefs of the Military 
Affairs Bureaus of the Army and Navy 
Ministries. These last three functioned as 
a secretariat, and by their choice of 
agenda and their role in briefing the 
participants, they exercised a very strong 
influence on the outcome of the Liaison 
Conferences. Their presence, also, meant 
that the conference proceedings would 
soon become known to other members 

"Adm Mitsuma a Yonai, in USSBS, Interrogations 
of Japanese Officials, II, 328. This discussion of IGHQ 
is based on Maxon, op. cit., pp. 21, 59-62, 126-27, 
167—68, 185-86, 189, 191, 255 n. 7; Hattori, op. cit., 
pp. 239—40; Japanese Opns in SWPA, p. 52; Tsuruzo 
Akisada, History of Conflicts Between Army and 
Navy, and Clique Struggles, GHQ FEC, MIS, Hist 
Div, Translation of Japanese Documents, III; 
Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 15—22. 

of the General Staffs, and the civilian 
participants were fully aware of the 
danger of assassination for any one who 
raised too strong a voice against the 
plans of the military. 

The Liaison Conference usually met 
twice a week, in a small conference room 
in one of the Imperial Palace buildings. 
There was no presiding officer, but the 
Premier occupied an armchair at the far 
end of the room and the others sat 
grouped around him. A variety of sub- 
jects was discussed at these meetings: 
war plans, diplomatic moves, the admin- 
istration of occupied areas, and the as- 
signment of national resources. Once a 
decision was reached at the Liaison Con- 
ference, it became in effect national 
policy by virtue of the official position 
of conference members, though the 
conference itself had no legal status. 

On the surface the Liaison Conference 
appeared to be a meeting of equals. But 
appearances were deceptive. The mili- 
tary dominated the conference and dic- 
tated policy. "Imperial General 
Headquarters was in the Liaison Con- 
ferences," explained General Tojo after 
the war, "and after they got through 
deciding things, the Cabinet, generally 
speaking, made no objection. Theoreti- 
cally, the Cabinet members could have 
disagreed . . . , but, as a practical matter, 
they agreed and did not say anything." 1T 
Imperial General Headquarters was thus 
the source of Japanese national policy. 
"The Cabinet, and hence the civil govern- 
ment," wrote former Premier Konoye in 

"Quoted in Maxon, op. cit., p. 150. This discussion 
of the Liaison Conference is based on ibid., pp. 127— 
2g, 132, 149-56, 168, 181—83; Imperial GHQ Army 
High Command Record, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, No, pp. 6-g, and Chart I; Japanese Opns in 
SWPA, p. 52 n. 24. 



his memoirs, "were manipulated like 
puppets by the Supreme Command " 18 

On extremely important occasions, the 
Liaison Conference became an Imperial 
Conference, or a Conference in the Im- 
perial Presence, by adding to its mem- 
bership the Emperor, the President of 
the Privy Council, and other high offi- 
cials. These meetings were much more 
formal that the Liaison Conferences. 
The participants made set speeches, pre- 
viously written and rehearsed, all differ- 
ences of opinion having been carefully 
resolved beforehand. The Emperor lis- 
tened in silence, seated on a raised dais 
before a long, rectangular table, where 
the major participants sat facing each 
other. The three secretaries were 
grouped around a small table in the cor- 
ner of the room. The Premier presided 
over the meeting, and each participant 
rose in turn, bowed to the Emperor, and 
stood stiffly in front of his chair while 
speaking. No one entered or left the 
room during the conference. At the con- 
clusion of the presentations, the Presi- 
dent of the Privy Council asked questions 
designed to elicit further information 
for the Emperor. These questions and 
answers were unrehearsed, but none of 
the representatives of the Cabinet dared 
deviate from the prearranged conclu- 
sions of the group. The Emperor, whose 
role was normally a passive one, did not 
speak. Only on very rare occasions, such 
as at the Imperial Conference on 6 Sep- 
tember 1941 and the one in August 1945 
that led to the Japanese surrender, did 
he venture to exercise his authority. 19 

Beneath the military high command 
structure in Tokyo, the Japanese had an 

"Quoted in Maxon, op. cit., p. 18a. 
"Ibid., pp. 63-64, 66, 156-59, 161-62, 17a, 183-83, 
204-09; Hattori, op. cit., pp. 243-45. 

extensive field organization. (Chart 4) 
In theory, field commanders were di- 
rectly responsible to the Emperor, the 
commander in chief of the armed forces, 
but in fact came under the control of 
Imperial General Headquarters, acting 
for the commander in chief. There was 
no direct communication between the 
throne and the field. Basic orders were 
issued to field commanders as Imperial 
General Headquarters Army or Navy 
Section Orders, signed by the appropriate 
Chief of Staff, "by Imperial Command." 
The detailed instructions necessary for 
the implementation of these orders, 
called Imperial General Headquarters 
Army or Navy Section Directives, were 
issued by the appropriate Chief of Staff 
without any reference to the throne. 
Recommendations of the field command- 
ers to the throne or request for review 
of headquarters decisions had to be sub- 
mitted to Imperial General Headquarters 
through the appropriate Chief of Staff. 20 
Unlike the Allies, the Japanese did 
not ordinarily organize their ground, air, 
and naval forces in the field under a 
single joint commander. Nor did they 
establish theaters of operations corres- 
ponding to geographical areas under a 
theater headquarters. Normally, the 
forces of each service in an area were 
placed under a separate Army or fleet 
headquarters whose commanders 
received orders through separate chan- 
nels and worked together under the 
principle of co-operation. The highest 
Japanese command, equivalent to a U.S. 
Army overseas command or perhaps to 

20 Imperial GHQ Army High Command Record, 
p. 2. Examples of Imperial General Headquarters 
Army and Navy Orders and Directives are to be found 
in several volumes of these documents prepared by 
FEC Mil Hist Sec, copies of which are on file in 

Chart 4 — The Japanese High Command 






Army CofS 
Army Section 


General of 


of (Army) 



Navy CofS 
Navy Section 




South Seas 






an army group, was the general army, 
the size of which might vary widely, and 
which operated directly under the Army 
Section of Imperial General Headquar- 
ters in Tokyo. There were three such 
armies during the early period of the 
war: Southern Army, Kwantung Army, 
and China Expeditionary Army. In each 
of these were usually one or more area 
armies, equivalent to U.S. field armies 
and consisting of units equivalent to a 
U.S. corps but called armies by the Japa- 
nese. There was no unit called a corps 
in the Japanese Army, Japanese divi- 
sions, brigades, and other separate units 
being assigned directly to armies. (An 
exception was the South Seas Detach- 
ment which served directly under Army 
Section, Imperial General Headquar- 
ters.) Thus, Southern Army, which con- 
ducted the opening operations of the 
war, consisted of four armies, two^air 
groups, and several smaller units. 

Unlike the Army, the Japanese Navy 
placed most of its combat forces under 
a single command, the Combined Fleet, 
which controlled all naval operations in 
the Pacific area and was roughly com- 
parable to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. During 
the early months of the war, this fleet 

had under its command six numbered 
fleets, two numbered air fleets, and the 
Southern Expeditionary Fleet. The 
numbered fleets, depending on their mis- 
sion, contained surface, submarine, and 
air units as well as service and support 
elements and base forces. Most of the 
carrier-based air power of the Combined 
Fleet was concentrated in the ist Air 
Fleet, which included four of Japan's 
five carrier divisions. Land-based naval 
air power was for the most part assigned 
to the nth Air Fleet, submarines to the 
6th Fleet, and battleships to the ist 
Fleet. 21 

This was the organization of the Japa- 
nese high command during the first year 
of the war. As the war progressed, adjust- 
ments were made, old organizations ex- 
panded and shifted, and new commands 
created to meet the needs of the changing 
strategic situation. But the basic struc- 
ture, except for the creation of a Supreme 
Council in August 1 944 to take the place 
of the Liaison Conference, remained 
unchanged throughout the war. 

^Imperial GHQ Army High Command Record, 
passim; Japanese Opns in SWPA, pp. 52—56; The 
Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II, Japanese 
Studies in World War II, 127, passim. 


Organization and Command of the Pacific 

The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without 
fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do 
good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom. 

Sun Tzu 

At the outbreak of war the United 
States had in the Pacific four major 
commands, USAFFE and the Asiatic 
Fleet in the Philippines, the Pacific Fleet 
and the Hawaiian Department in Ha- 
waii. All quickly proved inadequate to 
deal with a situation that had not been 
anticipated in prewar plans. They had 
no time to do more than improvise, 
sending forces where they were most 
urgently needed and establishing bases 
and commands as they were required 
and as troops and shipping became 

As American responsibilities in the 
Pacific were extended and U.S. forces 
there increased, the need for centralized 
direction and control of the scattered 
and often independent garrisons which 
had developed helter-skelter became 
more urgent. There was no single agency 
in the Pacific to supply these forces, no 
plan to unify their efforts, and no single 
commander to mold them into an effec- 
tive force capable of offensive as well as 
defensive operations. The fashioning of 
such an organization and the selection 
of a commander presented many prob- 
lems, not the least of which was the deli- 
cate adjustment of the conflicting claims 

of the Army and Navy to command in 
the Pacific. By midsummer of 1942 the 
task was substantially completed and 
the Army and Navy organization in the 
Pacific had taken the form it would 
retain for almost three years of war. 

The Problem of Responsibility 

Responsibility for the defense of Allied 
interests in the Far East and in the vast 
Pacific Ocean was divided at the start 
of war among the powers most directly 
concerned and there was little or no 
provision for common action. The Brit- 
ish held the predominant interest in 
Southeast Asia, China on the Asiatic 
mainland, the Dutch in the Indies, Aus- 
tralia and New Zealand in the South- 
west and South Pacific, and the United 
States in the western Pacific and the 
ocean reaches from the date line to the 
shores of the western hemisphere. 

Before the war was a month old the 
need for co-ordinated effort against the 
Japanese had produced agreement, some- 
what unwillingly on the part of the Aus- 
tralians and the Dutch, for the establish- 
ment of ABDACOM. This agreement 
was limited to that portion of the 



Pacific and Far East that lay between 
Burma and Australia and in no wise 
affected the responsibilities of each na- 
tion for the defense of its own interests 
and territory outside the ABDA area. 

The fall of Singapore on 15 February, 
foreshadowing the loss of Sumatra and 
Java, made virtually certain the split of 
the ABDA area in two. The military 
staffs as well as their political chiefs 
began therefore to seek a substitute for 
the doomed ABDACOM. With the Jap- 
anese in control o£ the Malay Barrier, 
interposed between the Pacific and 
Indian Oceans, it was evident that the 
operations of those forces assigned to 
the Southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia 
could no longer be co-ordinated under a 
single commander. That responsibility 
would now have to be divided. 1 

There was no disagreement over the 
division of responsibility. Even before 
the fall of Singapore it was generally 
accepted that the United States had the 
primary interest in the Pacific Ocean, 
Great Britain in the Indian. China, be- 
cause of political difficulties, was already 
recognized as a special problem. Talk- 
ing with Harry Hopkins on the evening 
of 15 February, President Roosevelt 
clearly indicated that the United States 
should assume responsibility for the re- 
inforcement of Australia and New Zea- 
land, as well as China. The British, he 
thought, were in a better position to 
support India and Burma where their 

'The material in this section is covered in part in 
Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp. 
164—73; Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. IV; 
Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 
ch. IX; History of U.S. Army Forces in the South Pa- 
cific Area (USAFISPA), MS prepared by the author 
and associates in 1944-45 at Hq USAFISPA, copy in 
OCMH. Besides using these works as necessary, the 
author has closely examined the sources on which 
they were based and has drawn his own conclusions. 

political and economic influence was 
paramount. These thoughts Roosevelt 
included in a message to Churchill three 
days later, with expressions of sympathy 
for the loss of Singapore. 2 

The same or similar ideas were ad- 
vanced independently about the same 
time in other quarters. The day after 
Singapore's surrender Admiral King sug- 
gested that the east (Australian) flank 
of ABDACOM be combined with the 
ANZAC Area to form a single theater. 
While admitting that there were other 
ways to solve the problem of organiza- 
tion, he made it clear that the United 
States had the predominant interest in 
the area and that the operations of the 
Pacific Fleet required the defense of 
Australia and the line of communica- 
tions. The British, he stated, should 
assume responsibility for China, Burma, 
and India. 

This same idea was advanced also by 
the Joint U.S. Strategic Committee on 
the 18th. A few days later the Joint 
Staff Planners themselves suggested that 
a separate Australian command, to in- 
clude part of New Guinea, be estab- 
lished, and that ANZAC be retained to 
defend the Northeast Area. Finally, on 
23 February, the British Chiefs in Lon- 
don, apparently in response to the Presi- 
dent's message to Churchill, declared in 
favor of establishing two areas of strate- 
gic responsibility: one a United States 
area to comprise the Pacific Ocean, in- 
cluding Australia and New Zealand, and 
the other a British area encompassing 
the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. 
The countries within these areas would 

'Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 502-03; 
Mins of the War Council, 16 Feb 42, Secy War Conf 
II, WDCSA; Rad, President to Churchill, No. 106, 
18 Feb 42, ABC 323.31 (1-29-42 sec. 1A) POA. 



provide for their own defense, but the 
United States and Great Britain would 
furnish the forces and exercise strategic 
control "in accordance with the general 
policy agreed between London and 
Washington for the conduct of the war 
as a whole." 3 

Pending formal agreement between 
the British and American Governments, 
the Combined Chiefs in Washington dis- 
cussed the practical problem of drawing 
the boundary line between the areas for 
which each nation would assume strate- 
gic responsibility when the time came. 
The British Chiefs had suggested on the 
23d a line extending southeast from 
Singapore through the Java Sea to 
Timor, then south to Australia, thus 
placing most of the Malay Barrier in 
the British area. The planners in Wash- 
ington objected to this division on the 
ground that those islands in the Nether- 
lands Indies that were within range of 
Australia were vital to its defense and 
should be under its control. Moreover, 
they pointed out, submarine and air 
operations along the Malay Barrier could 
be more effectively based on Australia 
than on India, where the British Far 
Eastern Fleet was stationed. The line 
they proposed, therefore, placed all of 
the Indies except Sumatra, as well as 
the Philippines and Australia,, within 
the American area, and it was this line, 
slightly modified, which was finally ac- 
cepted by the Combined Chiefs early 
in March. 4 

a Rad, BCOS to JSM, 23 Feb 42, ABC 323.31 (1-29- 
42 sec. i-A) POA; Memo, King for CCS, 17 Feb 42, 
sub: Changes in ABDA, ABC 381 (i-ia-42) SWPA; 
JUSSC, Review of Strategic Situation, 18 Feb 42, CCS 
381 (1-30-42); Mins, CCS Mtgs, 17, 2a, and 23 Feb 42. 

4 CCS 53, Demarkation of New Strategic Areas, a8 
Feb 42, CCS 381 (1-24-42 sec. 1); Mins, CPS Mtg, 25 
Feb 42; CCS Mtg, 3 Mar 42. 

Acceptance by the Combined Chiefs 
of the principle of strategic responsibil- 
ity and of a line separating the Pacific 
and Indian Oceans did not in itself 
constitute formal authority for alloca- 
tion of areas of responsibility or the 
establishment of new commands. These 
measures would have to wait agreement 
on the political level and formal disso- 
lution of ABDACOM, a step that would 
not be taken so long as the Dutch con- 
tinued to fight in Java. In the interim, 
adjustments were made in command to 
meet the changing situation and pre- 
pare for the reorganization that was cer- 
tain to come. On 22 February General 
Mac Arthur was ordered to Australia to 
command what was euphemistically 
called "a reconstituted ABDA Area" and 
three days later Wavell left for India 
where Brereton had already gone. At 
the same time General Brett returned 
to Australia to command U.S. forces 
there until MacArthur's arrival. 

These adjustments had scarcely been 
made when the news from Java gave 
increased urgency to the need for an 
early decision on the establishment of 
areas of responsibility and the formation 
of a new command in the Pacific. The 
problem was discussed at the White 
House on 7 March, and on the 9th, the 
day the Dutch in Java laid down their 
arms, Roosevelt broached the subject to 
Prime Minister Churchill. Starting with 
the obvious need to replace ABDACOM, 
the President suggested a three-way divi- 
sion of the Allied world into American 
and British areas. In the Pacific, where 
the United States would have responsi- 
bility, command would be exercised by 
an American officer responsible to the 
U.S. Joint Chiefs. The British, Roosevelt 
suggested, should assume similar 



responsibility in a "middle area" stretch- 
ing from Singapore to the Mediterra- 
nean. A third area comprising Europe 
and the Atlantic would be jointly admin- 
istered by the United States and Great 
Britain through the Combined Chiefs of 
Staff. This body, under Roosevelt's plan, 
would also co-ordinate operations in all 
three areas, allocate Allied resources, and 
formulate grand strategy. 5 

Substantially the same proposal was 
made the same day by General Marshall, 
acting at the President's behest, to the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff. This step intro- 
duced the plan officially into military 
channels and placed it ultimately before 
the Combined Chiefs. Though it pro- 
duced no formal agreement, Marshall's 
statement to the Joint Chiefs is instruc- 
tive for in it he undertook to clarify the 
control of the U.S. and British Chiefs 
over the proposed spheres of responsi- 
bility. Where strategic responsibility was 
assigned to a single nation, he stated, the 
government of that nation would make 
arrangements with the other govern- 
ments in the area for its organization 
and command, and the Chiefs of Staff 
of that nation would exercise jurisdiction 
over operations and "minor strategy" — 
presumably the strategy relating to that 
area alone. In those spheres where joint 
responsibility was established, strategic 
responsibility would devolve on the 
Combined Chiefs. 6 

"White House Conf, 7 Mar 42, summarized in JCS 
19, 9 Mar 42; Mins, JCS Mtg, 9 Mar 42; Memo, 
Eisenhower for JCS, 8 Mar 42, sub: Strategic Respon- 
sibility, JCS 19/1, 9 Mar 42; Rad, President to 
Churchill, No. 115, 9 Mar 4a, CCS 381 (3-5-45). 

"Memo, Marshall for JCS, 9 Mar 42, sub: Strategic 
Responsibility, JCS 19/1; Mins, JCS Mtg, 9 Mar 42, 
CCS Mtgs, 17 and 24 Mar 42; CCS 57/2, Strategic 
Responsibility, 24 Mar 42: Memo, Secy JCS to JCS, 
15 Jul 42, sub: Status of Agreements on Strategic 
Responsibility, CCS 381 (1-24—42 sec. 3). 

While Marshall's memorandum was 
making its way upward through official 
channels and while the Joint Chiefs were 
working out an organization for the 
Pacific area, negotiations on the political 
level continued. On 18 March Churchill 
responded to the President's proposal 
with a hearty indorsement of the idea 
for American and British spheres, and 
of a single American commander for the 
Pacific responsible to the Joint Chiefs. 
The Combined Chiefs under his and 
Roosevelt's direction would see to it, 
Churchill assumed, that operations in 
each theater conformed to a common 
strategy. Both the Australian and New 
Zealand Governments, to whom 
Churchill had forwarded the President's 
proposals, favored the principle of 
spheres of responsibility also, but had 
serious objections to the command ar- 
rangements Roosevelt had suggested. 
They were willing, even anxious, to have 
an American commander but wanted a 
voice in the formulation of strategy and 
a seat on the Combined Chiefs of Staff 
when that body deliberated on Pacific 
matters. 7 

Reasonable as this request seemed, it 
was greeted in Washington with the 
same objections that had been offered 
to similar representations when ABDA- 
COM was created. To the Joint Chiefs, 
the adoption of this arrangement, plus 
some other suggestions made at the same 
time, was inadvisable because it would 
slow up and complicate their work. This 
discussion, like the formal paper on 
spheres of responsibility, led nowhere, 
for already a new organization of the 

'Rads, Churchill to President, Nos. 46, 54, and 58, 
18, 20, and 24 Mar 42, filed with JCS ig/i and CCS 
57/1, ABC 371 (3—5-42) and CCS 381 (1-24-42). 



Pacific theater, which the establishment 
of areas of responsibility would presum- 
ably authorize, had been created. 8 Mili- 
tary exigency had outpaced political 

The Southwest Pacific and Pacific 
Ocean Areas 

In the weeks that had passed since the 
fall of Singapore, the Army and Navy 
planners had been hard at work fashion- 
ing an organization in the Pacific that 
would satisfy both services as well as 
the governments involved. The task was 
a difficult one and resulted finally in a 
compromise that worked reasonably well 
and produced in three years the victories 
which took Allied forces from Austra- 
lia and Hawaii to the Philippines and 

From the start the discussion over 
organization assumed that two theaters 
would be established in the Pacific de- 
spite the fact that the President evi- 
dently had in mind a single commander 
for the entire area and had so stated 
in his recent message to the Prime Min- 
ister. The appointment of a single com- 
mander had so many obvious advantages 
and was so close to General Marshall's 
belief in the importance of unified com- 
mand that the failure of the Joint Chiefs 
and their planners to consider it is in- 
deed surprising. One can only conclude 
that this omission was deliberate, but the 
record provides no clue to the reason. 
The answer may lie in the fact that 
everyone recognized that no officer could 

'Memo, Marshall for Pres, 24 Mar 42, ABC 323.31 
(1—29-42 sec. I-B) POA; Mins, JCS Mtg, 23 Mar 42. 
See also WDCSA 381 Australia. 

be found who would be acceptable to all. 
The outstanding officer in the Pacific 
was General MacArthur, who, if he had 
the support of the President, the Army, 
the American people, and the Austra- 
lians, did not have the confidence of the 
Navy. There was a widespread feeling 
in the Navy that the Pacific was pecul- 
iarly its province. Certainly the Navy 
would never have entrusted the fleet 
to MacArthur, or to any Army officer. 
Admiral Nimitz, the chief naval candi- 
date for the post, had not yet acquired 
the popularity and prestige he later en- 
joyed and was, moreover, considerably 
junior to MacArthur in length of serv- 
ice and seniority. There was no escape 
from this impasse except the creation of 
two commands. 9 

As in the discussion over spheres of 
responsibility, the decision on organiza- 
tion would have to await the outcome 
in Java. Suggestions made before that 
time, though helpful, could receive no 
official sanction. In that category fell 
Admiral King's proposal to combine 
that portion of the ABDA area still in 
Allied hands with ANZAC into a single 
command. The remainder of the Pacific, 
including the Philippines, King thought, 
could then be integrated into a separate 
command and subdivided into three 
areas, a north, south, and central Pacific. 
His proposal and others were studied by 
the planners but never got beyond that 
stage. 10 

"Memo, Turner for King, 19 Mar 42, Office of 
Naval Records, cited in Hayes, The War Against 
Japan, ch. IV, p. 18. 

10 Memo, King for JCS, 16 Feb 42, sub: Changes in 
ABDA, ABC 381 (1-12^2) SWPA; Mins, CCS Mtg, 
17 Feb 42; WPD Notes on Demarcation of New Stra- 
tegic Areas CPS 19/D and CCS 53, ABC 323.31 
(1-29-42 sec l-A) POA; Mins. JCS Mtg, 2 Mar 4s. 



Meanwhile the Australian and New 
Zealand Governments had joined forces 
to develop plans for their own defense. 
For four days, from 26 February to 1 
March, their Chiefs of Staff met in Mel- 
bourne to discuss this problem as well 
as the related problem of organization 
and command in the Southwest Pacific. 
General Brett was present at these meet- 
ings and reported fully to the War De- 
partment, urging at the same time that 
the United States take immediate action 
to reorganize the area. The Dominion 
Chiefs of Staff, he told Marshall at the 
end of the conference, favored the estab- 
lishment of a new area encompassing 
their own territory as well as Timor, 
Amboina, and New Guinea, and the 
appointment of an American officer to 
command it. (Brett was the man they 
had in mind.) This officer, the Aus- 
tralians and New Zealanders thought, 
should be responsible to the U.S. and 
British Chiefs, rather than the U.S. 
Chiefs alone. 

Though this arrangement differed in 
several important respects from those 
already under consideration in Wash- 
ington, Marshall seized this fresh oppor- 
tunity to force a decision on the 
organization of the Pacific. "I should like 
to see the question of command settled 
quickly and specifically . . . ," he wrote 
to Brett, "but the definite proposal to 
that effect should be made by the local 
governments." What he suggested was 
that the Australians and New Zealand- 
ers make their recommendations formal- 
ly to the British who would eventually 
forward them to the Combined Chiefs. 
If this was done, he thought "the whole 
matter could be settled expeditiously." 
But, he warned Brett, "you must be care- 
ful not to give the impression that you 

are acting under instructions from the 
War Department." 11 

The Australian and New Zealand pro- 
posal reached Washington on 7 March, 
whereupon Marshall advised Brett to do 
nothing more until he received fresh in- 
structions. "The Combined Chiefs of 
Staff," he explained, "are studying the 
subjects covered . . . which involve far- 
reaching readjustments." 12 But the Com- 
bined Chiefs, having agreed only a few 
days before, on 3 March, that if the 
Pacific area was made an American re- 
sponsibility, control would be vested in 
the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, did not consider 
the ANZAC proposal at all but passed 
it on to the Joint Chiefs. There it met 
serious criticism from Admiral King who 
had strong objections to placing Austra- 
lia and New Zealand in a single theater. 
New Zealand, he insisted, was a link in 
the line of communications and an inte- 
gral part of the system of island bases 
stretching east and north to Hawaii. 
The defense of this line, King declared, 
was essentially a naval problem and inti- 
mately associated with the operations of 
the Pacific Fleet. Australia and its ap- 
proaches through the Netherlands Indies 
and New Guinea formed a separate stra- 
tegic entity and should, King asserted, 
be placed under another command. 13 
Here was a clear exposition, based on 
strategic considerations, for a twofold 
division of the Pacific. 

"Rads, Brett to Marshall, Nos. 87 and 467, 27 Feb 
and 3 Mar 42, WPD Ready Ref File Australia; Mar- 
shall to Brett, No. 543, 5 Mar 42, WPD Msg File 

"Rad, Marshall to Brett, No. 589, 8 Mar 4s, WPD 
Msg File Australia; Memo, British COS for JSM, 7 
Mar 42, Governmental and Strategical Control, CCS 

57. 323-3 1 ('-29-42 sec- !- A ) POA - 

"Comments of Adm King on Hayes, The War 
Against Japan, ch. IV, p. 21; JCS 18, Governmental 
and Strategical Control, 8 Mar 42. 



The differences between the Army's 
and Navy's views emerged clearly in the 
next two days during which the naval 
staff members, following up King's lead, 
developed one plan and their Army col- 
leagues another. The Navy's plan called 
for an Australian area whose western 
limits followed the line of demarcation 
between the Pacific and Indian Oceans 
accepted by the Combined Chiefs. The 
eastern boundary, the 160th and 165th 
meridian east as far as the equator, 
placed all of the Solomons in the Aus- 
tralian area, but excluded the New Heb- 
rides, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. 
On the north the area was bounded by 
an irregular line drawn to include New 
Guinea and the Indies, but not the Phil- 
ippines. The rest of the Pacific, from 
New Zealand and New Caledonia east- 
ward, the naval planners organized into 
a Pacific Ocean area subdivided into 
three parts and placed under the Com- 
mander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. Opera- 
tional control of both the Australian and 
Pacific Ocean areas, the naval planners 
recommended, should rest with the Joint 
Chiefs. 14 

The Army planners led by General 
Eisenhower accepted the twofold division 
of the Pacific but not Admiral King's 
claim that New Zealand belonged with 
the line of communications rather than 
Australia. Their arrangement followed 
closely the one proposed by the Domin- 
ions and provided for a Southwest and 
North Pacific area. The first would com- 
prise all of the Pacific south of the line 
Philippines-Samoa. The supreme com- 
mander for this area, which would in- 
clude New Caledonia, the Fijis, New 
Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, was 

"JCS 18, Governmental and Strategical Control, 
8 Mar 42. 

to be selected by the governments in the 
area, but it was already understood that 
he would be an American, probably 
MacArthur. The North Pacific area, 
everything north and east of the Philip- 
pines and Samoa, would be commanded 
by a naval officer. 15 

The differences between the Army and 
Navy plans were reconciled by the Joint 
Chiefs between 9 and 16 March. In the 
9 March meeting, at which the two plans 
were first discussed, Admiral King firmly 
defended the Navy solution, emphasiz- 
ing the need for preserving freedom of 
action for the fleet. General Marshall, 
apparently convinced by King or unwill- 
ing to risk a deadlock that would require 
Presidential action, did not insist on the 
adoption of the Army's plan but only 
that the Philippine Islands, for "psycho- 
logical reasons," be included in the Aus- 
tralia, or Southwest Pacific Area, as it 
came to be called. To this Admiral King 
agreed and the Navy's plan, with some 
slight modifications, was approved by the 
Joint Chiefs. 16 Curiously enough, this 
action, which anticipated American and 
British approval of the division of the 
world into spheres of responsibility, had 
no official basis then or thereafter, for 
the British Government never took ac- 
tion on the proposal to establish these 
spheres of responsibility. The reason for 
this failure is not clear, but there is no 
doubt that the planners of both nations 
as well as their military and civilian 
chiefs favored the proposal and always 
acted as though it had official sanction. 

Having reached agreement on the 
organization for the Pacific, the Joint 

"Memo, Marshall for JCS, g Mar 42, sub: Creation 
of SWPA, JCS 18/2. 

"Mins JCS Mtgs, 9 and 16 Mar 42; CCS Mtg, 
17 Mar 42. 



Chiefs proceeded to the task of selecting 
the commanders and preparing directives 
for them. Theoretically this task pre- 
sented few difficulties but it was com- 
plicated by commitments already made 
and instructions previously issued. 
Though MacArthur's name had not 
been mentioned in the Joint Chiefs' dis- 
cussions, he had been virtually promised 
the post of supreme commander in the 
Southwest Pacific Area even before such 
an area had been established. On 10 
March, while he was still negotiating 
with King on the future organization 
of the Pacific, Marshall had instructed 
Brett to notify the Australian Prime 
Minister "within the hour" of Mac- 
Arthur's arrival in Australia and of his 
assumption of command of U.S. forces 
there — the post Brett himself held. 
"You will propose," Marshall further 
instructed Brett, "that the Australian 
Government nominate General Mac- 
Arthur as the Supreme Commander of 
the Southwest Pacific Area, and will 
recommend that the nomination be sub- 
mitted as soon as possible to London 
and Washington simultaneously." 17 

General Brett followed his instructions 
faithfully. When MacArthur's plane 
reached Darwin on 17 March, Brett tele- 
phoned Prime Minister Curtin and in 
the President's name put forward Mac- 
Arthur's nomination for the post for 
which the Australians had earlier nomi- 
nated Brett himself. This was the first 
indication Curtin had of MacArthur's 
presence and he fell in with Brett's 
suggestion readily and with enthusiasm. 
That same day he named MacArthur 
as his government's choice for supreme 
commander. In Washington this request 

"Rad, Marshall to Brett, 6ig, 10 Mar 42, OPD Exec 

was the signal for an unusually prompt 
War Department press release announc- 
ing the news of MacArthur's arrival in 
Australia and his impending appoint- 
ment "in accordance with the request 
of the Australian Government." To the 
British Prime Minister, Roosevelt ex- 
plained that he had authorized this pub- 
lic statement to forestall Axis propaganda 
that MacArthur's departure from the 
Philippines meant that the United States 
had abandoned the Filipinos. Mac- 
Arthur's nomination, the President as- 
sured Churchill, would "in no way 
interfere with procedure of determining 
strategic areas and spheres of respon- 
sibility through established channels." 18 
Whether by design or not, the effect 
of Marshall's instructions to Brett, which 
the President approved, was to present 
the British with a fait accompli. It also 
made any discussion by the Joint Chiefs 
of a commander for the Southwest Pacific 
entirely academic. The legal forms were 
preserved, however, and officially the 
Southwest Pacific Area was still to be 
established and its commander desig- 
nated. These actions presumably would 
be completed only after agreement be- 
tween the United States and Great Brit- 
ain on spheres of responsibility. Thus 
it was that on 18 March, two days after 
the Joint Chiefs had agreed on an organ- 
ization for the Pacific and the day after 
MacArthur reached Australia, Marshall 
dispatched a long message to MacArthur 
explaining the situation to him and as- 
suring him that when the negotiations 
with the British and Australians were 
completed his appointment would be 

18 Milner, | Vict ory in Papua, p. i8;| Rads, Brett to 
Marshall, No. 736, 17 Mar 42, President to Churchill, 
same date, OPD Exec Files; WD Press Release, 17 
Mar 48. 



made official. Until that time he would 
be, for all practical purposes, the supreme 
commander in the Southwest Pacific 
As such, Marshall told him, he would 
be ineligible to command directly any 
national force and would therefore have 
to relinquish command of U.S. Army 
Forces in Australia to Brett from whom 
he had taken over only the day before. 
Ultimately, Brett would command the air 
forces, Admiral Leary the naval forces 
(ANZAC would cease to exist when the 
new organization went into effect) , and 
an Australian officer the ground forces. 19 
MacArthur's position was anomalous. 
He commanded neither the Southwest 
Pacific Area nor U.S. Army Forces in 
Australia, but only USAFFE, which, 
since Wainwright's assumption of com- 
mand in the Philippines, consisted only 
of the handful of officers he had brought 
with him. Until he received official 
authority, his control of. the forces in 
Australia would be difficult and his rela- 
tionship with the Australian Govern- 
ment would have to be conducted on an 
unofficial and informal basis. Despite 
these handicaps, MacArthur quickly took 
hold. By the end of the month he had 
secured Brett's appointment as com- 
mander of the air forces, which he had 
found "in a most disorganized condi- 
tion," placed American and Australian 
ground combat forces under an "appro- 
priate Australian general," and Ameri- 
can service troops in USAFIA under 
General Barnes. This arrangement, he 
told Marshall, would "free the combat 
echelons of all administrative, supply, 
and political considerations, permit- 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 739, 18 Mar 42, 
OPD Exec Files. 

ting uninterrupted concentration on 
combat." 20 

Meanwhile the planners in Washing- 
ton, spurred on by the necessity of reg- 
ularizing MacArthur's position, were 
drafting the directives and completing 
their arrangements for the organization 
of the Pacific theater. Though there 
was no urgency in the Pacific Ocean 
Area, the naval planners wished to estab- 
lish both areas simultaneously. Failure 
to do this, Admiral Turner thought, 
might open the way for an Army effort 
to enlarge the Southwest Pacific at the 
expense of the South Pacific along the 
lines laid down in the Army plan or 
in the ANZAC proposals. The naval 
planners feared also that the Army might 
raise objections, if the opportunity arose, 
to placing its forces under naval control. 
Thus, on the 19th, Admiral Turner, the 
chief naval planner, submitted to King 
draft directives for the Southwest and 
Pacific Ocean Areas with the recommen- 
dation that both be acted on at the same 
time. 21 

At this point Admiral King departed 
from the procedure usually followed in 
such matters and instead of processing 
the draft directives through the Joint 
Chiefs' committees sent them directly to 
General Marshall with the explanation 
that he was doing so "in order to save 
the time that might be lost through 
possible prolonged discussions of the 

M Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 19, 24 Mar 
42; Brett to Marshall, No. 79a, 21 Mar 4a; Marshall 
to MacArthur, No. 791, 21 Mar 42; MacArthur to 
Marshall, No. 3, 21 Mar 42; Marshall to MacArthur, 
No. 8i, Z2 Mar 42, all in OPD Exec SWPA— 
MacArthur File. 

"Memos, Turner for King, 19 Mar 42; King for 
Marshall, same date, sub: Command Areas in Pacific, 
both cited in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. IV, 
p. 25. 



General MacArthur and Admiral 

Planning Staff." He and Marshall, King 
suggested, should settle the problem 
between themselves. 22 Apparently the 
Army Chief of Staff passed these draft 
directives to his own planners who found 
little to object to and at the next meet- 
ing of the Joint Chiefs on 30 March 
they were accepted and forwarded to 
the White House. Final approval by 
the President was given on the last day 
of the month. 28 

The directives thus approved — they 
were dated 30 March — established the 
two Pacific areas, set their geographical 
limits, named the commanders, and as- 
signed their missions. MacArthur, as 
expected, was appointed Supreme Com- 

"Memo, King for Marshall, so Mar 42, sub: Pro- 
posed Directives, cited in Hayes, The War Against 
Japan, ch. IV, p. 26. 

"Memos, Marshall and King for Pres. 30 Mar 42, 
no sub; U.S. Secy CCS for Marshall and King, 1 Apr 
42, both in ABC 323.31 (1-29-42 sec. 3) POA; Mins, 
JCS Mtg, 30 Mar 4a. 

mander (a title he himself changed to 
Commander in Chief) of the Southwest 
Pacific Area; Admiral Nimitz, Com- 
mander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas. 24 
The boundaries of the two areas con- 
formed to the earlier agreement: Mac- 
Arthur's domain included Australia, the 
Philippines, New Guinea, the Solomons, 
the Bismarck Archipelago, and all of the 
Netherlands Indies except Sumatra. Ad- 
miral Nimitz' command, though it had 
less land area, was even larger in extent 
and encompassed the remainder of the 
Pacific except for a broad band of ocean 
off the coast of Central and South 
America. 25 It was divided into three sub- 
ordinate areas, two of them, the Central 
and North Pacific, under Nimitz' direct 
control, and the third, the South Pacific, 
under a naval officer responsible to Nim- 
itz. The dividing line between the first 
two was at 42 north, thus placing 
Hawaii, the Gilberts and Marshalls, the 
Mandated Islands, and Japan itself in 
the Central Pacific. The South Pacific 
Area, which extended southward from 
the equator, between the Southwest 
Pacific and longitude 1 io° west, included 
the all-important line of communications. 

Unlike the ABDA Area, in which each 
of the participating powers had equal 
responsibility and representation, the 
two areas established by the 30 March 
directives were the exclusive responsi- 
bility of the United States. The author- 
ity granted the commanders under this 
new arrangement was broader than that 

"First designated in the singular, Pacific Ocean 

"This band included the area east of the 110th 
meridian, and south of latitude 11° north and was 
designated the Southeast Pacific Area. It was under 
separate command and never became an active 



exercised by General Wavell, and they 
were not bound by many of the restric- 
tions that had limited the authority of 
the ABDA commander. ABDACOM 
had reported to the Combined Chiefs; 
MacArthur and Nimitz reported to the 
Joint Chiefs, which had jurisdiction over 
operational strategy subject to the grand 
strategy formulated by the Combined 
Chiefs. In its relations with the Pacific 
commanders, the Joint Chiefs would act 
through the chiefs of each of the services 
as executive agents, so that MacArthur 
would receive his orders from Marshall, 
Nimitz from King. 

This organization, it should be noted, 
did not establish a unified command for 
the Pacific, but rather two separate area 
commands. Control over the theater as 
a whole was vested in the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff, which became in effect the 
directing headquarters for operations in 
the Pacific. But that body lacked a 
single head — except the President him- 
self — and operated under a committee 
rather than a staff system so that even 
in Washington command was diffused 
and decentralized and decisions on strat- 
egy and theater-wide problems could be 
reached only by debate and compromise. 
Within the theater itself there was no 
single authority which could choose be- 
tween strategic plans, resolve the conflict- 
ing claims of MacArthur and Nimitz for 
troops and supplies, assign priorities, 
shift forces from one area to another, 
or concentrate the resources of both areas 
against a single objective. Such an ar- 
rangement complicated the problems of 
war in the Pacific. It led to duplication 
of effort and keen competition for the 
limited supply of ships, landing craft, 
and airplanes; and it placed on the Joint 
Chiefs the heavy burden of decision in 

many matters that could well have been 
resolved by lesser officials. 

Of all the faulty decisions of the war 
[General MacArthur wrote] perhaps the 
most unexplainable one was the failure to 
unify the command in the Pacific. The 
principle involved is perhaps the most fun- 
damental one in the doctrine and tradition 
of command. In this instance it did not 
involve an international problem. It was 
accepted and entirely successful in the other 
great theaters. The failure to do so in the 
Pacific cannot be defended in logic, in 
theory or even in common sense. Other 
motives must be ascribed. It resulted in 
divided effort, the waste of diffusion and 
duplication of force and the consequent 
extension of the war with added casualties 
and cost. The generally excellent coopera- 
tion between the two commands in the 
Pacific supported by the good will, good 
nature and high professional qualifications 
of the numerous personnel involved was no 
substitute for the essential unity of direction 
of centralized authority. 26 

Though superficially alike, the direc- 
tives to the Pacific commanders differed 
in some fundamental respects. As 
supreme commander in an area that 
presumably would include large forces 
of other governments, MacArthur, like 
Wavell, was specifically enjoined from 
directly commanding any national force 
or interfering with its internal adminis- 
tration. Nimitz was not thus restricted 
for it was anticipated that his forces 
would be mostly American and his oper- 
ations more closely related to the fleet. 
Thus, he was permitted to exercise direct 
command of the forces in the North and 
Central Pacific, and, through a subor- 
dinate commander, those of the South 
Pacific. Furthermore, he exercised direct 
control of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) , 
in which capacity he was directly respon- 

"Ltr, MacArthur to Maj Gen Albert C. Smith, 
Chief, Mil Hist, 5 Mar 1953, OCMH. 



sible through naval channels to Admiral 
King. Undoubtedly the difference in 
the authority granted the two men, as 
well as the wording of the tasks assigned 
to each, was based partially on the Navy's 
conviction that MacArthur had a limited 
conception of the use of naval as well 
as air power. If he was given command 
of these forces, Turner told King, "I 
believe that you will find the Supreme 
Commander will tend to use . . . [them] 
in a wrong manner, since he has shown 
clearly unfamiliarity with proper naval 
and air functions." 27 

There were significant differences, 
too, in the tasks assigned each of the 
Pacific commanders. MacArthur's mis- 
sion was mainly defensive and included 
only the injunction to "prepare to take 
the offensive." Combined with the state- 
ment that he was to "hold the key mili- 
tary regions of Australia as bases for 
future offensive action against Japan," 
it was possible to derive from it, as 
MacArthur quickly did, authorization 
for offensive operations based on Aus- 
tralia. This does not seem to have been 
the intention of the Army planners in 
Washington. At the time, they appar- 
ently had no thought of opening such 
an offensive, though the Navy did hope 
to launch operations in the Southwest 
Pacific, but not from Australia. 

Admiral Nimitz' directive assigned a 
defensive mission, too, but it clearly 
envisaged offensive operations for the 
future by instructing him to "prepare 
for the execution of major amphibious 
offensives against positions held by 
Japan, the initial offensives to be 
launched from the South Pacific Area 

"Memo, Turner for King, 19 Mar 42, cited in 
Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. IV, p. 30. 

and Southwest Pacific Area." 28 This 
wording implied that Admiral Nimitz 
would command not only the offensive 
in his own area, but that in MacArthur's 
area as well. And this may well have 
been the intent of the naval planners 
who drafted the directives, for in their 
view all amphibious operations — and 
any operation in the Pacific would be 
amphibious — should be under naval 
command. But the major offensive when 
it came, the Navy believed, would be 
across the Central Pacific along the route 
marked out in the prewar Orange plan. 

Presidential approval of the directives 
to MacArthur and Nimitz did not con- 
stitute authority for assumption of com- 
mand. The other governments involved 
would have to give their consent, too, 
and in view of the difference between 
the present version and the plan the 
Australians and New Zealanders had pro- 
posed, that consent might not be read- 
ily granted. The British and the Dutch 
raised the first objection, but it was a 
minor one and was easily met by a 
change in wording of the first paragraph 
of the directives. Their approval was 
won by the first week of April. 

The objections of the Australians and 
New Zealanders were not so easily met. 
They were understandably dissatisfied 
with the separation of the Dominions 
and reiterated the arguments for a single 
strategic entity incorporating their own 
territory, the Fijis, and New Caledonia. 
To this Admiral King replied, in a 
memorandum for the President, that 
"The defense of Australia is primarily 
a land-air problem for which the best 
possible naval support is a fleet free to 
maneuver without restrictions imposed 

^JCS Directive to CINCPOA, 30 Mar 42, ABC 
323.31 (i-2g^2 sec. 1 B) POA. 



by the local situation." New Zealand's 
defense was primarily a naval problem, 
and "has no relation," King insisted, "to 
the defense of Australia." Though they 
were not convinced, the Australians and 
New Zealanders finally accepted this sep- 
aration "because of the necessity of an 
immediate decision." 29 

But the Dominion governments had 
other objections to the new organization. 
They found no guarantee in the new 
directive, they said, that their forces 
would not be moved out of Australian 
and New Zealand territory, or that the 
local commanders would be able to com- 
municate freely with their governments, 
as had been the case in ABDACOM. 
These arguments King answered — Mar- 
shall was in London — by pointing out 
that the actions of the Joint Chiefs were 
subject to review by the President to 
whom the governments involved had 
recourse through diplomatic channels. 
"The interests of the nations whose 
forces or whose land possessions may be 
involved in these military operations are 
further safeguarded," Admiral King ex- 
plained, "by the power each nation 
retains to refuse the use of its forces 
for any project which it considers inad- 
visable." This statement apparently 
settled the fears of the Australians. Ap- 
proval of the directives followed not long 
after and on 1 8 April General MacArthur 
officially assumed command of the 
Southwest Pacific Area. 30 

"Memo, King for President, 5 Apr 42, CCS 57/z, 
ABC 323.31 (1-29-42 sec. 2) POA; Hayes, The War 
Against Japan, ch. IV, p. 331. 

"General Order 1, GHQ SWPA, 18 Apr 42; Rad, 
MacArthur to Marshall, No. 327, 18 Apr 42, CM— IN— 
4719. The correspondence between the Dominion 
governments and Admiral King, who acted for the 
Joint Chiefs in Marshall's absence, is in ABC 323.31 
(1-29-42 sec. 2) POA and CCS 381 (1-24-42 sec. 2). 

The size of the area under Mac- 
Arthur's command after 18 April can 
perhaps be appreciated by superimpos- 
ing a map of the United States over one 
of the Southwest Pacific. Miami would 
fall on Townsville and Seattle on Sara- 
wak in Borneo; San Francisco would fall 
in Java and New York on Rabaul. 
Thus, the headquarters in Melbourne 
would be equivalent to one in South 
America directing operations against 
Boston and New York, and planning 
for an invasion against northwest 

The logistical difficulties in a theater 
of this size and in this part of the world 
were enormous. The line of communi- 
cations to the United States (San Fran- 
cisco to Sydney) , the main source of 
supply, was over 4,000 miles long. This 
fact combined with the scarcity of ships 
constituted a major problem in the ship- 
ment of men and supplies from the 
United States, as well as within the 
theater. Ports, bases, airfields, and roads 
had to be carved out of jungle, and 
there was rarely enough equipment and 
men to do the job without extraordinary 
measures. "Forced risks" and "crisis 
management" were common parlance 
among the logisticians in the theater. 
Climate, terrain, and tropical diseases 
were an ever-present factor in planning 
and operations, imposing additional 
burdens on the supply system. 

It would take time to overcome these 
difficulties but in the meantime General 
MacArthur could begin to organize his 
forces, provide for their administration 
and supply, and plan for future opera- 
tions. The Australian commanders had 
been notified on the 17th that orders 
issued by him were to be considered 
"as emanating from the Commonwealth 



Admiral Leary 

Government," and MacArthur could 
therefore formally establish the three 
commands, Allied Land, Air, and Naval 
Forces, which, with the existing Ameri- 
can commands, USAFIA, USAFFE, and 
Wainwright's USFIP in the Philippines, 
constituted his entire force. General Sir 
Thomas Blarney, recently returned from 
the Middle East, became Commander, 
Allied Land Forces; General Brett, Al- 
lied Air Forces; and Admiral Leary, 
Allied Naval Forces. All American units, 
with the exception of certain air ele- 
ments, were assigned to USAFIA, the 
administrative and service agency for 
U.S. Army forces, which on 20 July was 
redesignated the U.S. Army Services of 
Supply under the command of Brig. Gen. 
Richard J. Marshall. But for operation- 
al employment, all American ground 
troops, soon to number two divisions, 
as well as those of the Australians, who 
contributed in addition to the militia 

two more seasoned divisions from the 
Middle East, came under General 
Blarney. Similarly, General Brett and his 
successor, Maj. Gen. George C. Kenney, 
commanded the American, Australian, 
and Dutch air elements and Admiral 
Leary (soon succeeded by Rear Adm. 
Arthur S. Carpender) the naval units 
which included four cruisers, destroyers, 
submarines, and auxiliary craft. 31 

MacArthur organized his own head- 
quarters, located initially in Melbourne, 
along traditional U.S. Army lines. 
(Chart 5) There was nothing in his 
directive requiring him to appoint offi- 
cers of the participating governments, 
as General Wavell had been required 
to do. General Marshall urged strongly 
that he do so and the President indicated 
that he would like to see Australian and 
Dutch officers in high position on the 
Supreme Commander's staff. 32 But Mac- 
Arthur did not follow these suggestions 
and the staff named on 19 April was 
almost entirely American with a few 
Australian and Dutch officers serving in 
subordinate posts. The top positions 
went to those USAFFE officers who had 
come from Corregidor; Maj. Gen. Rich- 
ard K. Sutherland, Chief of Staff; Brig. 
Gen. Richard J. Marshall, Deputy Chief 
of Staff; Col. Charles P. Stivers, G-i; Col. 
Charles A. Willoughby, G-2; Brig. Gen. 
Spencer B. Akin, Signal Officer; and 
Brig. Gen. Hugh J. Casey, Engineer 
Officer. The others came from the 
USAFIA staff: Brig. Gen. Stephen J. 
Chamberlin, G-g; Col. Lester J. Whit- 

sl GO 1, GHQ SWPA, 18 Apr 42; Rads, MacArthur 
to Marshall, Nos. 381 and 41s, 20 Apr 42, OPD 
MacArthur File. 

3J Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 1178, 9 Apr 42, 

Chart 5 — Command Organization in the Pacific, July 1942 





Pacific Ocean Areas 
and Pacific Fleet 
Adm Nimitz 

Pacific Area 
Gen MacArthur 

Adm Nimiti 

South Pacific 
Adm Ghormley 
Adm Halsey 
(16 Oct) 

Fleet Forces 

Adm Nimiti 

Gen Emmons 

Sea Frontier 
Adm Block 

North Pacific 
Adm Theobald 

South Pacific 

Adm TurneT 

South Pgcifie 
Naval Forces 
Adm Ghormley 

U.S. Army Forces 
South Pacific 
Gen Harmon 

South Pacific 

Air Forces 
Adm McCain 



Allied Naval 

Adm Carpender 

Allied Land 
Gen Blarney, Aus. 

Allied Air 

Gen Kenney 

U.S. Army Forces 
in the 

U.S. Army 
Services of 
Gen Marshall 

U.S. Army Forces 
Far East 

Marine Force 

TYPE Commands 

Service Forces 
Amphibious Forces 
Submarine Forces 



lock, G-4; and Col. Burdette M. Fitch, 
Adjutant General. 33 

The most serious problem confront- 
ing MacArthur was the defense of Aus- 
tralia. The Australian Chiefs of Staff, 
recognizing the impossibility of defend- 
ing so vast an area with their small force, 
had in February decided to concentrate 
their strength in the Brisbane-Melbourne 
area, outposting the rest of the country 
as well as the Northeast Area. 34 This 
concept MacArthur later characterized 
as passive and defeatist, strategically un- 
sound and "fatal to every possibility of 
ever assuming the offensive." 35 Speak- 
ing at an off-the-record press conference 
just one year after he had reached Aus- 
tralia, he declared that within three days 
of his arrival he had decided to scrap 
the Australian concept and to adopt 
instead an active defense far to the north 
in New Guinea. There at Port Moresby 
he would wage the battle for Australia 
on ground of his own choosing and on 
his own terms. This decision, in his view, 
"was one of the most decisive as well as 
one of the most radical and difficult 
decisions of the war." 36 

The Australians did not let Mac- 
Arthur's characterization of their strat- 
egy or his claim to omnipotence go 
unchallenged. Their own plans, they 
claimed, did make provision for the 
defense of the forward area in New 
Guinea and they had reinforced Port 
Moresby to the fullest extent possible. 
They could find no evidence, either, 
that MacArthur had issued any direc- 

83 GO a, GHQ SWPA, 19 Apr 42. 

34 Australian Chiefs of Staff, Appreciation, 27 Feb 
42, G-3 Jn], GHQ SWPA. 

3 " Ltr, MacArthur to Smith, response to question 
by the author, 5 Mar 53, OCMH. 

^Ibid; Ltr, Curtin to Blarney, 16 Nov 43, copy in 

tives or altered their troop dispositions 
in such a way as to indicate any funda- 
mental change in strategy at that time. 
The change that was made came later, 
they claimed, and was made possible 
by the arrival of reinforcements from 
the Middle East and the United States. 
All these considerations John Curtin, 
the Australian Prime Minister, called 
to Mac Arthur's attention after the press 
conference of March 1943, but Mac- 
Arthur again asserted flatly, "It was 
never my intention to defend Australia 
on the mainland of Australia. That was 
the plan when I arrived, but to which 

1 never subscribed and which I imme- 
diately changed to a plan to defend 
Australia in New Guinea." 37 

Whether the matter was as represented 
by MacArthur or by Curtin, the fact was 
that the forces required to put into effect 
an active defense in New Guinea were 
simply not available in April 1942. Mac- 
Arthur's naval force was small and un- 
balanced and lacked aircraft carriers. 
The only combat troops he had were the 
41st U.S. and two Australian divisions 
(less two brigades in Ceylon) ; the 3 2d 
Division was not due until May. And 
although he had 17 Australian air squad- 
rons and American units consisting of 

2 heavy and 2 medium bomber groups 
and 3 fighter groups (not all of them 
had yet arrived) , his air component was 
below standard in organization and 
training. But all his efforts to secure 
more at that time were unavailing, and 
it was with this force that MacArthur 

3, Ltrs, MacArthur to Curtin, 6 Nov 43; Curtin to 
Blarney, 16 Nov 43; Blarney to Curtin, 28 Jan 44; 
Rowell to Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward, Chief, Mil Hist, 
6 Apr 51, all in OCMH; Milner, Victory in Papua, 
|pp. 24—25;! McCarthy, Southwest Pacific Area— First 
Year, pp. 25-33. 



in April made preparations to hold Port 
Moresby. 38 

The organization of the forces of the 
Pacific Ocean Areas, where Admiral 
Nimitz assumed command on 8 May, 
was far more complicated than in the 
neighboring theater. Already in the area 
was the old prewar Army command, the 
Hawaiian Department, whose primary 
responsibility was the defense of Oahu, 
and especially the Pearl Harbor base of 
the Pacific Fleet. The unified command 
established on 17 December 1941, ten 
days after the Japanese attack, was lim- 
ited to the Hawaiian area and did not 
include the chain of islands which had 
since been garrisoned by Army forces. 
In the absence of any other Army com- 
mand, responsibility for the supply and 
administration of some of these island 
garrisons had fallen on General Emmons, 
the Hawaiian Department commander. 
But he did not have the broad authority 
that his naval colleagues had at the time 
for the control of forces along the line of 

As Commander in Chief, Pacific 
Ocean Areas (CINCPOA) , Admiral 
Nimitz exercised considerably more di- 
rect control over his forces than did Gen- 
eral MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific. 
In addition to his command of the Pa- 
cific Fleet, he also commanded directly 
two of the three areas established in the 
30 March directives. (Later he relin- 
quished personal command of the North 
Pacific.) Like MacArthur, he was pro- 
hibited from interfering in the internal 
administration of the forces in his thea- 
ter, but as a fleet commander he remained 
responsible for naval administration as 

"The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific, 
SWPA Series, I, p. 40; McCarthy, Southwest Pacific 
Area— First Year, p. 82. 

well as operations. He was thus answera- 
ble to himself in several capacities and 
it was not always clear whether he was 
acting as area commander, fleet com- 
mander, or theater commander responsi- 
ble to the Joint Chiefs in Washington. 
This fact and the failure to define pre- 
cisely the relationship between Admiral 
Nimitz and General Emmons led to the 
numerous misunderstandings that 
marked Army and Navy operations in 
that area during the war. 

The South Pacific Area 

Of the three subordinate areas of 
Admiral Nimitz' command the one whose 
organization presented the greatest prob- 
lem was the South Pacific where the Al- 
lied offensive would come first. Admiral 
Ghormley, who was in London when he 
received his appointment as Commander, 
South Pacific Area (COMSOPAC) , on 
13 April, did not assume command for 
two months although he arrived in 
Auckland, New Zealand, the site of his 
new headquarters, on 21 May. On the 
way out, he had stopped in Washington 
where King told him that his was "a 
most difficult task" and that the offensive 
against Japan would probably start from 
the South Pacific "possibly this fall." 39 
His next stop was Pearl Harbor, where he 
stayed for a week to confer with Nimitz 
and his staff. There he was told again 
to prepare for an amphibious offensive 
and met his air commander, Rear Adm. 
John R. McCain. His command, Nimitz 
told him, would include all the garrisons 
already in the area (about 60,000 Army 
troops plus three fighter and two medium 
bombardment groups) , the remnants of 

38 Mori son, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine 
Actions, p. 451. 



the ANZAC naval force, a marine divi- 
sion already en route to New Zealand, 
plus whatever forces might be allocated 
by the United Nations. Exempted were 
those forces concerned with the land 
defense of New Zealand, a task that 
remained a responsibility of the New 
Zealand Chiefs of Staff. 40 

Ghormley's organization closely par- 
alleled Admiral Nimitz'. Retaining for 
himself control of all naval units in the 
area and of their administration as well, 
he exercised command through a staff 
that was essentially naval. Of 103 officers 
assigned in September 1942 only three 
wore the Army uniform. Thus his head- 
quarters became the center for naval 
administration as well as joint operations 
and planning. He quickly established 
air, amphibious, and service commands, 
all under naval officers and predomi- 
nantly naval staffs, but not a ground 
command, as General MacArthur had 
done. Instead, his own headquarters did 
the planning for and retained control of 
Army and Marine Corps elements in the 

The amphibious command was organ- 
ized on 18 July and the Navy gave 
Ghormley one of its ablest — and most 
contentious — officers, Admiral Turner, 
chief of the War Plans Division, to com- 
mand it. All air units in the theater 
were under Admiral McCain, soon to be 
replaced by Rear Adm. Aubrey W. 
Fitch. His responsibilities included not 
only operational control of all aircraft, 
but training and indoctrination as well. 
It was this latter responsibility that was 
to cause so much difficulty. 

The first logistical agency for the South 
Pacific was the Service Force in New 

"Unless otherwise noted this section is based on 
/list of USAFISPA. 

Zealand, but on his arrival Ghormley 
established the Service Squadron, South 
Pacific. Charged with responsibility for 
the procurement and delivery of all 
supplies in the theater, except those 
exempted from naval control, this head- 
quarters quickly took charge of the trans- 
portation and base facilities of the Navy 
and Marine Corps in the area under a 
logistical plan issued on 15 July. As the 
highest supply agency in the South Pa- 
cific, Service Squadron co-ordinated all 
service organizations in the theater, con- 
trolled all ships and shipping, distributed 
all supplies obtained locally, designated 
ports of call, and established priorities. 

The establishment of the South Pacific 
coincided with the opening of offensive 
operations and made more urgent the 
solution of the problems presented by 
the absence of a comparable Army com- 
mand. There were Army troops in New 
Zealand, New Caledonia, Efate and 
Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, the 
Fijis, Tongatabu, and Bora Bora. These 
troops had been rushed out so quickly 
that there had been no opportunity to 
perfect arrangements for their support 
and control. Some commanders, like 
General Patch, were responsible directly 
to the War Department; others, to Gen- 
eral Emmons in Hawaii. Administration 
therefore was complicated and command 
confused. Moreover the supply of these 
forces was cumbersome and inefficient 
with responsibility divided among the 
San Francisco Port of Embarkation, 
USAFIA, and the Hawaiian Department. 
Complicating the situation even more 
was the fact that responsibility for the 
airfields along the line of communica- 
tions belonged to General Emmons, so 
that a base commander might report 
directly to the War Department, get his 



Admiral Ghormley 

supplies from the San Francisco port, 
and take his orders for airfield construc- 
tion, possibly his most important task, 
from General Emmons. 

Allocation of aircraft to the South 
Pacific Area constituted another major 
problem. Admiral King and his naval 
planners had long argued for heavy 
bombers in the area, contending that 
B-17's in Hawaii and Australia could 
not meet the threat of invasion along the 
line of communications. The army and 
air planners, backed by Presidential 
authority, had firmly resisted demands 
for a South Pacific heavy bombardment 
force as well as an increase in the air 
units already authorized, arguing for the 
same mobility for aircraft that the Navy 
insisted on for warships. Though the 

Admiral McCain 

Navy lost the argument it did get a 
group of heavy bombers— the xith 
Bombardment Group — for the South 
Pacific late in June by an arrangement 
which established an Hawaiian Mobile 
Air Force of B-17's that could be used 
anywhere in the Pacific subject to 
approval by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The assignment of the Army Air 
Forces' most precious weapon, the B-17, 
to the South Pacific brought into sharp 
focus the question of control of aircraft. 
The area command, despite its theoreti- 
cally joint character, was naval and the 
air commander was a naval officer. 
Army aircraft thus came under naval 
control for operations, a fact that could 
not be avoided, distasteful as it may 
have been to the airmen. But when in 



Admiral Fitch 

became apparent that Admiral McCain 
would also be responsible for the train- 
ing and indoctrination of Army air units, 
the air planners expressed strong objec- 
tions. Their forces, they felt, should 
retain their identity, be assigned appro- 
priate missions, and execute them under 
their own commanders in accordance 
with Army Air Forces doctrine. Under 
no circumstances, they insisted, should 
air units be integrated into a naval force 
md commanded by naval officers. 41 

While this debate was in progress, the 
problem of administration and supply 

"Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., 
"he Pacific — Guadalcanal to Saipan: August 1942 to 
uly i<)44, vo '- "The Army Air Forces in World 

War II" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1050), 

pp. 39-30. 

Admiral Turner 

was becoming more acute. Admiral 
King's proposal on 10 April that a 
Marine officer be appointed as com- 
mander of the South Pacific bases and a 
joint supply organization established to 
take over responsibility for their logistic 
support only precipitated another disa- 
greement between the Army and Navy. 
The idea of a separate commander for 
all the bases was rejected, but the pro- 
posal for an interservice logistical organ- 
ization was the subject of discussions 
throughout April and May. The Navy 
favored a joint organization to supply all 
forces in the South Pacific on the ground 
that this arrangement would result in 
the greatest economy in shipping and 
avoid duplication of effort. This organi- 
zation would function in the theater 



under the Service Squadron in the South 
Pacific and in San Francisco under a 
comparable naval headquarters. The 
Army, fearing naval control over Army 
supplies, opposed this proposal and in- 
sisted on parallel Army and Navy supply 
organizations. "We have so dominant an 
interest . . . ," wrote Maj. Gen. Brehon 
B. Somervell, "so clear a responsibility 
in the supply of our large forces; we 
must definitely control the means." 42 
Agreement proved impossible and all that 
remained of the proposal when the de- 
bate ended was a joint purchasing office 
for local procurement in New Zealand. 

Another solution to the problem of 
administration and supply was that rec- 
ommended by General Emmons who 
wanted an Army commander for the 
South Pacific, stationed in the Fijis and 
subordinate to him, to co-ordinate the 
operations, supply, and maintenance of 
Army forces in that area. 43 A month 
later, when the War Department had still 
failed to act on his proposal, Emmons 
asked for a clarification of his responsi- 
bilities, pointing out that confusion was 
resulting from the conflicting requests 
he was receiving from the base com- 
manders. The clarification was not long 
in coming for already the War Depart- 
ment had decided to establish a separate 
Army command in the South Pacific, but 
along different lines from those suggested 
by Emmons. 44 

The solution arrived at in Washington 
was designed as much to meet the prob- 
lem of the control of Army aircraft as it 
was to create a more orderly system of 

"Cited in Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics 
and Strategy, p. 189. 

" 3 Ltr, Emmons to Marshall, 20 May 42, sub: Army 
Com in South Pacific OPD 384 PTO case 18. 

44 Rad, Emmons to TAG, 27 Jun 42, CM— IN— 9002; 
Marshall to Emmons, 4 Jul 42, CM-OUT-i 179. 

supply and administration. At the same 
time that the B-17's had been sent to the 
South Pacific the Army had decided to 
appoint an air officer as commander of 
all Army forces placed under Ghormley. 
This arrangement had been worked out, 
apparently, between General Eisenhower 
and Maj. Gen. Millard F. Harmon, Chief 
of Air Staff. After certain modifications, 
Admiral King finally accepted this ar- 
rangement on 2 July and five days later 
the new command, U.S. Army Forces 
in the South Pacific Area, was created. 
Harmon himself was the officer Marshall 
selected for this new and difficult 
assignment. 45 

General Marshall's instructions to 
Harmon were detailed and specific. His 
first task was to take over the administra- 
tion and training of all U.S. ground and 
air troops in the South Pacific, and sec- 
ondarily to assist Ghormley in the prep- 
aration and execution of plans then 
under consideration for the employment 
of Army forces. On his arrival in the 
theater, Marshall instructed, Harmon 
was to inspect the Army bases in the area 
and submit to Washington recommenda- 
tions for "the rearrangement, reduction 
or augmentation of the personnel and 
materiel . . . with a view to establishing 
a balanced, cohesive and efficient Army 
contingent." 46 This done he would take 
over responsibility for the logistic sup- 
port of the Army bases in the area, 
utilizing to the full local resources. 
Through COMSOPAC he would pro- 
cure whatever he could from the Joint 

"Relevant Papers, all of which the author con- 
sulted, are filed in OPD 384 PTO case 18 and art 
listed in Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 
1941-42, p. 265. 

"Ltr, Marshall to Harmon, 7 Jul 42, sub: Instruc 
tion to CG USAFISPA, with amendment dated it 
Jul 42, OPD 384 PTO case 18. 



Purchasing Board, established by Ghorm- 
ley in June 1942 and consisting of three 
American officers — one from each of the 
services. Other supplies, except for 
petroleum products, which were a naval 
responsibility, he would procure from 
the San Francisco port. 47 

Unlike Ghormley, General Harmon 
had no operational control over his 
forces. Though he did later acquire such 
command it was by delegation from 
COMSOPAC, for limited periods and 
for specific purposes. His instructions, 
too, limited his authority. They lacked, 
he later said, "simplicity and directness," 
and by particularizing his duties had the 
effect of restricting his command. He 
had no power over the employment of 
Army forces, and could only plead his 
instructions to assist COMSOPAC in the 
preparation and execution of plans as 
authority for a voice in the discussions 
and decisions involving Army and Air 
Force units. So vague was this provision, 
that he commented to a Washington col- 
league later that "anyone could interpret 
[it] in any way they desired." 48 His own 
interpretation was as broad as he could 
make it, with the result that he played a 
far more active role in operations than 
was ever intended. 

Many of the officers General Harmon 
chose for his staff were highly trained 
airmen whose selection reflected the War 
Department's intention that the new 
headquarters would uphold the Army 
Air Forces' interests in this predomi- 
nantly naval area. His chief of staff was 
Brig. Gen. Nathan F. Twining, later to 
become commander of the Thirteenth 

■"See Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and 
Strategy, pp. 190-92. 

*Ltr, Harmon to Handy, 4 Nov 43, copy in 

Air Force; his supply officer, Col. Robert 
G. Breene; his operations officers Cols. 
Frank F. Everest, Dean C. Strother, and 
Thomas D. Roberts; and his Signal offi- 
cer, Col. Francis T. Ankenbrandt. On 
16 July these men left Washington by 
air. After a brief stopover in San Fran- 
cisco, where they met General Kenney, 
on his way to Australia to replace Gen- 
eral Brett, they reached Hawaii on the 
22d and Suva in the Fijis on the 26th. 
From there Kenney reported to Admiral 
Ghormley and assumed command of U.S. 
Army forces in the area by radio. His 
headquarters, he announced, would be 
in Noumea, capital city of New Caledo- 
nia. Until he could issue further instruc- 
tions on administration and supply, 
Harmon told the Army commanders, 
they were to handle such matters as 

The headquarters in New Caledonia 
was opened on 29 July. Already Admiral 
McCain was established there and 
Ghormley soon moved his own head- 
quarters, located aboard the USS Ar- 
gonne, to the port of Noumea. Thus, 
the major Army and Navy headquarters 
were quickly brought together so that a 
close working relationship could be 
established. "There has been no sugges- 
tion of any lack of harmony," General 
Harmon told Arnold. "Neither Ghorm- 
ley or McCain are inclined to demand 
or suggest tasks beyond the capabilities 
of our units and freely consult unit com- 
manders and members of my staff on 
matters of technique. . . . All commands, 
forces, and units in this area are working 
full out, and in full accord to the com- 
mon end; and this relationship will be 
preserved." 49 

4B Ltr, Harmon to Arnold, 5 Aug 4s, copy in 



The logistical problems that faced 
General Harmon were, like those of 
other commanders in the Pacific, per- 
haps the most difficult. His command 
covered a tremendous area, over one 
million square miles, practically all of it 
ocean. The most distant bases were 3,000 
miles apart. Unlike a continental thea- 
ter of operations with debarkation facili- 
ties, road nets, and railways, the South 
Pacific had almost no communications 
or developed industrial facilities except 
in New Zealand. Harbors and docks 
were scarce. In the entire area there were 
only four ports, Auckland, Wellington, 
Suva, and Noumea, with usable terminal 
installations, and of these only the first 
was adequate to support a major military 
effort. Before any of these ports could 
accommodate large shipments of troops 
and supplies it would be necessary to 
enlarge and improve harbors, docks, and 
warehouses. Roads and the other re- 
quirements for a large supply base were 
nonexistent or entirely inadequate. To 
add to this difficulty, Harmon had to 
impose order on an already complicated 
and confusing situation and deal with 
a naval supply organization which per- 
formed many of the functions his own 
would. "Our own Army logistic prob- 
lem," he explained to Marshall, "is 
sufficiently difficult in itself. The one of 
coordination with the Navy to avoid 
duplication, economize on transporta- 
tion and insure availability of surpluses 
in one service to meet deficiencies of the 
other is doubly so." 50 He had been in 
the area only a month when he told a 
Washington colleague that "logistics is 

"*Ltr, Harmon to Marshall, g Sep 42, copy in 

still, and for a long time will be in a 
muddle." 51 

It was not until 1 5 October, about two 
and one-half months after his arrival, 
that General Harmon assumed responsi- 
bility for supply and administration of 
Army forces in the South Pacific. 52 This 
responsibility he delegated to a Service 
Command headed by his G—4, Colonel 
Breene, soon to be promoted to brigadier 
general, thus leaving himself free to con- 
centrate on operational matters. All Army 
commanders were instructed to send 
their requisitions as well as all reports 
and requests, to the new headquarters, 
soon reorganized and redesignated the 
Services of Supply, where they would be 
consolidated and forwarded to Washing- 
ton. In this way central control and 
standard procedure for all Army units 
in the area were established for the first 

Harmon's control of Army air units 
in the South Pacific was less direct. From 
the outset he insisted, as did his superiors 
in Washington, that their administra- 
tion, supply, and training were his re- 
sponsibility, though Admiral McCain 
exercised operational control. Moreover, 
even in operations he did not concede 
that McCain's control was complete. It 
was his responsibility, he asserted, to see 
that the Army's aircraft were employed 
in a way that was consistent with doc- 
trines and techniques of the Air Forces. 
Very early he came to the conclusion 
that this could only be achieved by a 
centralized Army air organization for the 
South Pacific. Failure to create such an 
organization, he told General Arnold, 
would soon place the Army "in the posi- 

M Ltr, Harmon to Brig Gen St. Clair Streett, 27 
Aug 42, copy in OCMH. 
M GO 6F, Hq USAFISPA, 15 Oct 42. 



tion of being unable to refute an asser- 
tion to the effect: "You do not have in 
the Army any senior officer with opera- 
tional experience of large Air Forces in 
this type of warfare." 53 The organiza- 
tion Harmon wanted was finally estab- 
lished in January 1943 when the 
Thirteenth Air Force was activated, but 
already the major issue had been 

Almost the first problem Harmon 
raised with Admiral Ghormley when he 
reached Noumea was that of Army con- 
trol over the operations of the B-17's 
and B-26's based on Efate and Espiritu 
Santo. The solution worked out during 
several conferences with Ghormley and 
McCain late in July gave to Harmon 
responsibility for the training and indoc- 
trination of Army air units, but left to 
McCain the formulation of doctrine for 
the employment of aircraft and their 

M Ltr, Harmon to Arnold, 12 Oct 4a, copy in 

assignment to operations. In routine 
operations such as patrolling, the air- 
craft were to be controlled by the base 
commander through his air officer, who 
might be an Army or Navy officer. But 
the missions and objectives were to be 
assigned by McCain. In short, General 
Harmon received, in large measure, 
supervision over the administration of 
Army air units as well as control over 
their employment in normal and routine 
situations. But he had little to say in 
their assignment, the strategy that dic- 
tated their employment, and the organi- 
zation under which they would operate. 

By the time these problems had been 
solved and the organization of the South 
Pacific worked out, the forces in the area 
were already engaged in offensive opera- 
tions. These operations had been made 
possible by a series of naval battles 
which had turned the balance in the 
Pacific and given the initiative for the 
first time since 7 December to the Allies. 



There are only three principles of warfare— Audacity, Audacity, and 

General Patton 

The story of the first four months of 
the war in the Pacific was one of unre- 
lieved tragedy and disaster. Everywhere, 
from Hawaii to Burma, the Allies had 
suffered humiliation and defeat at the 
hands of a foe who seemed almost super- 
human, able to traverse unbelievable 
distances and impossible terrain on a 
handful of rice and quick to take advan- 
tage of every Allied weakness. Only in 
the Philippines, where American and 
Filipino forces still held out, had the 
implacable foe been thwarted, and even 
there the end was clearly in sight. 

But the next two months of 1942 
would tell a different story. Already the 
tide of Japanese victory was receding as 
the Allies recovered from their momen- 
tary confusion and sought to overcome 
their initial weakness. In April the raid 
came against Tokyo, a fitting retaliation 
for Pearl Harbor and the first good news 
the American public had had in four 
months of war. Next month the Allies 
struck another blow in the Coral Sea 
to give pause to the overconfident and 
jubilant Japanese. Finally, early in June, 
came the great American naval victory 
off Midway, which marked the turning 
point of the war and made possible the 
offensives that followed later in the year. 

During these months the only dark 
spot in an otherwise brightening scene 
was the loss of the Philippines and the 
tragic fate of its gallant defenders. But 
this isolated victory had little strategic 
significance for the Japanese who in two 
brief and bitter months had seen the 
initiative they had thought so firmly in 
their hands slip away from them. The 
sunshine-filled days of victory had indeed 
been short. 

The Fall of the Philippines 

When Wainwright moved to Corregi- 
dor to take over MacArthur's post on 2 1 
March, the lull which had settled over 
the Bataan battlefield in mid-February 
was already coming to an end. Since 
8 February when he had abandoned his 
fruitless attempts to reduce the Bataan 
defenses, General Horama had received 
large reinforcements, almost two divi- 
sions as well as artillery, aircraft, and 
individual replacements. By the end of 
March his plans were ready and most of 
his troops in position to attack. But 
before he gave the signal he offered 
Wainwright one last chance to surrender, 
urging him to be sensible and follow 
"the defenders of Hongkong, Singapore, 



and the Netherlands East Indies in the 
acceptance of an honorable defeat." 1 
Wainright did not even reply to this 
message, and on 3 April, Good Friday, 
after almost two weeks of intensive air 
and artillery attacks, the final Japanese 
offensive began. 

From the start the attack went well 
for General Homma who, on the basis 
of his earlier disappointments, was pre- 
pared for the worst. The 80,000 Amer- 
icans and Filipinos crowded into the 
southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula 
were too weak from hunger, their com- 
bat efficiency too low to withstand the 
ferocity of the Japanese attack. In short 
order Homma's forces pierced the cen- 
ter of the American line, outflanked the 
defenders, and forced them back from 
the main line of resistance. By the night 
of the 8th, General King's Luzon Force 
had virtually disintegrated. Philippine 
Army troops were in complete rout and 
units were melting away "lock, stock, 
and barrel." Headquarters had lost con- 
tact with the front-line troops and the 
roads were jammed with soldiers who 
had abandoned arms and equipment in 
their frantic haste to escape. Three 
months of malnutrition, malaria, and 
intestinal infections had left the Amer- 
icans and Filipinos weak and disease- 
ridden, totally incapable of the sustained 
physical effort necessary for a successful 
defense. There was nothing for General 
King to do but surrender. 

The battle for Bataan was ended; the 
fighting was over. The men who had 
survived the long ordeal could feel just- 

l The text of the surrender message is in the exhib- 
its of the trial of General Homma, Prosecution ex- 
hibit 421. This section is based on Morton, Fall of 
the Philippines, \ch. XXHI-XXXH. | 

ly proud of their accomplishment. For 
three months they had held off the 
Japanese, only to be overwhelmed fin- 
ally by disease and starvation. In a very 
real sense they had suffered "a true 
medical defeat." 2 

The events that followed General 
King's surrender present a confused and 
chaotic story of the disintegration and 
dissolution of a starved, diseased, and 
beaten army, a story climaxed by the 
horrors and atrocities of the infamous 
Death March. Denied food and water, 
robbed of their personal possessions, 
forced to march under the hot sun and 
halt in areas where even the most primi- 
tive sanitary facilities were lacking, 
clubbed, beaten, and bayoneted by their 
Japanese conquerors, General King's 
men made their way into captivity. Gal- 
lant foes and brave soldiers, the battling 
bastards of Bataan had earned the right 
to be treated with consideration and de- 
cency, but their enemies had reserved 
for them even greater privations and 
deeper humiliation than any they had 
yet suffered. 3 

Though the fall of Bataan ended all 
organized opposition on Luzon, it did 
not give the Japanese the most valuable 
prize of all, Manila Bay. So long as Cor- 
regidor and its sister forts lying across 
the entrance to the bay remained in 
American hands, the use of the finest 
natural harbor in the Orient was denied 
them. And before General Homma 
could report to his already impatient 
superiors in Tokyo that he had accom- 

'Rpt, Luzon Force Surgeon to CG, Luzon Force, 
30 Jun 42, sub: Medical Aspects of the Surrender, 
copy in OCMH. 

3 For an account of the Death March, see Stanley 
L. Falk, Bataan: The March of Death (New York: 
W. W. Norton & Company, 1962). 



plished his mission, he would also have 
to occupy Mindanao to the south as well 
as the more important islands in the 
Visayan group in the central Philippines, 

It took the Japanese another month 
to accomplish these tasks. While his 
troops were making ready for the as- 
sault on Corregidor, General Homma 
launched the offensive in the south. On 
ig April a detachment recently arrived 
from Borneo took Cebu in the Visayas 
and next day another from Malaya occu- 
pied the neighboring island of Panay. 
Both detachments then joined the one 
at Davao to begin the campaign on Min- 
danao. In a concerted drive beginning 
on 29 April, the Emperor's birthday, 
the Japanese advanced rapidly on all 
fronts and within a week had virtually 
gained control of the island. "North 
front in full retreat," reported General 
Sharp. "Enemy comes through right 
flank. Nothing further can be done. 
May sign off any time now."* 

Meanwhile the Japanese had turned 
their attention to Corregidor. With the 
southern tip of Bataan in their posses- 
sion they could now emplace artillery on 
the heights of the Mariveles Mountains 
and along the Manila Bay shore, only 
two miles across the channel from the 
island fortress. By thus massing their 
artillery they were able to pour on Cor- 
regidor so steady and heavy a volume of 
fire that the intermittent air attacks of 
the preceding three months paled into 
insignificance. "One day's shelling," re- 
marked one officer, "did more damage 
than all the bombing put together." 5 

4 Rad, Sharp to MacArthur, 9 May 42 GHQ SWPA 
G-3 Jnl, Phil Is, Opns Rpts. 

"The Siege of Corregidor, Mil Rpts on UN, No. 12, 
ig Nov 43, p. 50, MID WD. 

For twenty-seven days, from 9 April 
to 6 May, this bombardment continued, 
increasing in intensity as the days went 
by. By the evening of 5 May there was 
little left on the island to stop the Japa- 
nese. The beach defenses had been 
demolished, the huge seacoast guns si- 
lenced, and the antiaircraft batteries 
reduced to impotence. All wire com- 
munication had been destroyed and ev- 
ery effort to restore it unavailing. "Com- 
mand," observed General Moore, "could 
be exercised and intelligence obtained 
only by use of foot messengers." 

Even the topography of the island had 
changed. Where once there had been 
thick woods and dense vegetation only 
charred stumps remained. The rocky 
ground had been pulverized into a fine 
dust, and the coastal road had been liter- 
ally blown into the bay. Deep craters, 
empty shell cases, and huge fragments 
of concrete pockmarked the landscape. 
Gone were the broad lawns, impressive 
parade grounds, spacious barracks, and 
pleasant shaded clubs and bungalows of 
peacetime. By 5 May Corregidor lay 
"scorched, gaunt, and leafless, covered 
with the chocolate dust of countless 
explosions." 7 

By this time the 10,000 men on Cor- 
regidor — soldiers, marines, and sailors 
alike — knew that a Japanese assault was 
imminent. "It took no mental giant," 
as Wainwright observed, "to figure out 
by May 5, 1942, that the enemy was 
ready to come against Corregidor." 8 And 
most of the men knew as well as their 
commander that they stood little chance. 

*Rpt of Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic 
Bays, an. 8, USAFFE USFIP Rpt of Opns, p. 72. 

'Maude R. Williams, The Last Days of Corregidor, 
supp. p. 1, typescript diary in OCMH. 

'Wainwright, General Wainwright's Story, p. 114. 



There had been six hundred casualties 
since 9 April, and those who escaped in- 
jury were beginning to feel the effects 
of malnutrition. Men were living on 
nerve alone, and morale was dropping 
rapidly. All hopes for reinforcement 
had long since disappeared. There was 
only enough water to last four more days 
at most and no prospect that the pipes 
and pumps for the artesian wells could 
be repaired. In any event, the power 
plant on which the Corregidor garrison 
was entirely dependent would not last 
more than a few weeks. 

Life in Malinta Tunnel, where those 
who could had taken refuge, had become 
almost unbearable. Dust, dirt, great 
black flies, and vermin were everywhere, 
and over everything hung the odor of 
the hospital and men's bodies. On the 
haggard faces of the men could be seen 
the effects of the continuous bombard- 
ment. There was a limit to human en- 
durance and that limit, General Wain- 
wright told the President, "has long 
since been passed." 9 

The long-awaited and dreaded attack 
came late on the night of 5 May, after 
a particularly intense artillery concen- 
tration on the tail of the tadpole-shaped 
island. The full moon, "veiled by 
streaks of heavy black clouds," was just 
rising when, shortly before midnight, 
Japanese artillery fire suddenly ceased, 
and its bass roar was replaced "by the 
:reble chattering of many small arms." 10 
3arges were observed approaching the 
:ail (east) end of the island, and at 2230 
he order went out to prepare for a 
lostile landing. A few minutes later a 

"Ibid., pp. 122-23. 

10 Maj John McM. Gulick, Memoirs of Btry C, 91st 
'A (PS), p. 188, copy in OCMH. 

runner from the beach defense com- 
mand post arrived at Moore's headquar- 
ters in Malinta Tunnel with the news 
that the Japanese had landed. 

The fight for Corregidor lasted only 
ten hours. Though the Japanese suf- 
fered heavy losses during the landing 
and came ashore in the wrong place, they 
recovered quickly. One group cut across 
the tail of the island while the bulk of 
the Japanese turned west, advancing in 
the darkness along the axis of the island 
toward Malinta Tunnel. At Battery 
Denver on a ridge near the east entrance 
of the tunnel, the Japanese ran into the 
first serious opposition and it was there 
that most of the fighting took place that 
night and during the early hours of the 
morning. The defenders threw every- 
thing they had into the battle, including 
coast artillery men and a provisional 
battalion of 500 sailors, but their efforts 
were doomed to failure. Finally, at 0800, 
after the Japanese had brought tanks 
and artillery ashore for a concerted at- 
tack, General Wainwright committed his 
last reserves. 

The final blow came soon after when 
the Japanese sent three tanks into the 
action. The first appearance of armor 
on the front panicked the defenders and 
caused some to bolt to-the rear. It took 
the combined efforts of commissioned 
and noncommissioned officers to calm 
the troops and prevent a rout. "The ef- 
fect of the tanks," the Japanese noted 
with satisfaction, "was more than had 
been anticipated." 11 

By 1000 on the morning of 6 May the 
situation of the American troops on Cor- 

" Statement of Col Yoshida, 9 Feb 50, ATIS Doc 
G2644, Statements of Japanese Officials on World 
War II, GHQ FEC, IV 553-57, OCMH. 



regidor was critical. The troops on the 
front line, pinned down by machine gun 
and artillery fire, could move neither 
forward nor back and had no weapons 
with which to meet the tanks. Already 
between 600 and 800 men had been 
killed and about 1,000 more wounded. 
All reserves had been committed and 
practically all the guns destroyed. The 
Japanese were apparently preparing for 
another landing at the opposite end of 
the island, and, in any case, would reach 
Malinta Tunnel with its 1,000 wounded 
men in a few hours. When they did 
there would be a wholesale slaughter. 

It was on this basis that General Wain- 
wright made his decision to surrender, to 
trade one day of freedom for several 
thousand lives. By 1200, all arms larger 
than .45-caliber were destroyed, codes 
and radio equipment smashed, classified 
papers burned, and the surrender mes- 
sage broadcast in English and Japanese. 
At that time, the American flag on Cor- 
regidor was lowered and burned and 
the white flag hoisted. "With broken 
heart and head bowed in sadness but 
not in shame," Wainwright wrote the 
President, "I report . . . that today I must 
arrange terms for the surrender of the 
fortified islands of Manila Bay. . . . With 
profound regret and with continued 
pride in my gallant troops, I go to meet 
the Japanese commander." 12 The five- 
month-long struggle for control of the 
Philippine Archipelago was over; the 
victory which Homma had hoped to win 
by the middle of February was finally 
his, three months later. It was a victory 
without honor and for this delay and 

13 Rad, Wainwright to Roosevelt, 6 May 4.2. A copy 
of this message is reproduced in Wainwright, General 
Wainurright's Story, pp. ia?_ag. 

General Wainwright broadcasts sur- 
render instructions. 

loss of face Homma was relieved of com- 
mand and spent the rest of the war on 
the side lines, as an officer on inactive 

In the context of global war, the 
Philippines did not in mid-ig42 possess 
great strategic significance. The Japa- 
nese tide had already swept around the 
islands and over Southeast Asia and the 
Indies, through the Bismarck Archipel- 
ago into the Solomons and New Guinea, 
and eastward across the Pacific as far a^ 
the Gilbert Islands. Only in the Philip- 
pines had the enemy been halted, anc 
in this successful though hopeless re 
sistance lay the real importance of tfu 
bitter defense. It demonstrated that ttu 
Japanese were not invincible, and tha 
they could be stopped by determinec 
men, ably led. For an Allied work 
surfeited on gloom, defeat, and despair 
the epic of Bataan and Corregidor wa 



a symbol of hope and a beacon of success 
for the future. 

The Tokyo Raid 

To balance the bad news of the loss 
of the Philippines, the American public 
could look back with satisfaction to the 
recent announcement of the spectacular 
raid against Tokyo on 18 April. Con- 
ceived during the dark days of January 
as a retaliation for Pearl Harbor, this 
bold strike, coming only nine days after 
the surrender of Bataan, was a powerful 
boost to morale at home and a grim 
warning of American determination to 
carry the war into the enemy's territory. 

The idea for the raid is credited vari- 
ously to the President, to Stanley K. 
Hornbeck of the State Department, and 
to others. Apparently it was first con- 
sidered seriously in the Navy Department 
by Capt. Francis L. Low, Admiral King's 
operations officer, and King in January 
1942. The problem, King and Low 
agreed, was to get planes within striking 
distance of Tokyo Bay without putting 
the carriers within range of the enemy's 
air and naval defenses. This meant the 
launching position would have to be at 
least 500 miles off the Japanese coast. 
Where would the planes put down after 
the attack? Certainly the aircraft carriers 
would not be able to await their return. 
Vladivostok was only 600 miles from 
Tokyo, but the Soviet authorities would 
not provide a haven for the American 
fliers for fear of risking hostilities with 
Japan. They would have to land some- 
where in eastern China, thus adding 
1,500 miles to the minimum of 500 re- 
quired to reach Tokyo. Only the Army 
Air Forces could provide a plane with 
the range and bomb load required. But 

would army bombers be able to take off 
from aircraft carriers? 13 Obviously the 
Army Air Forces would have to study 
the problem. 

General Arnold, when the idea was pre- 
sented to him, was enthusiastic. While 
Capt. Donald B. Duncan, King's air op- 
erations officer, worked out the naval 
details of the plan, Arnold's staff studied 
the air problems presented by this dar- 
ing scheme. The first task was to select 
an airplane that would meet the require- 
ments. Three types were considered and 
the planners finally chose the twin-en- 
gine medium bomber, the B-25. For 
this mission, the planes would have three 
auxiliary fuel tanks and additional gaso- 
line inside for a capacity of 1,141 gallons, 
cameras, a 2,000-pound bomb load, a 
simple bombing device called the Mark 
Twain, and two dummy tail guns which, 
it was hoped, would discourage Japanese 
fighters from attacking from the rear. 14 
The choice of planes, all of which came 
from the 17th Bombardment Group, de- 
termined the choice of crews. Twenty- 
four were needed and it was decided to 
get them all, if possible, from this group. 
More than enough volunteered to make 
up the force required for the assignment. 
General Arnold himself chose the leader 
of the expedition, Lt. Col. James H. 

"Vice Adm Donald B. Duncan, Account of Tokyo 
Raid Planning, written for Samuel E. Morison, his- 
torian of U.S. naval operations. A detailed study of 
the Tokyo raid was prepared by Lt. Col. S. L. A. Mar- 
shall during the war and is on file in OCMH. This 
study was the basis for the accounts in Morison, The 
Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 389-98, and Craven 
and Cate, AAF I, 438-44. This author used these 
narratives as well as many of the records used by 
Colonel Marshall. 

"The Norden sight was not used because the 
planes were to bomb from low altitude and because 
of the danger of enemy capture. 



There were many problems, the most 
important of which was to train the 
pilots in carrier take-offs, still to be 
solved. These were worked out during 
March when the crews trained at Eglin 
Field, Florida, on a strip the size of a 
carrier's deck. Before the month was 
over all the pilots had taken off twice 
with fully loaded planes in a distance of 
700 to 750 feet. There was, unfortun- 
ately, no time for practice with live 
bombs or for gunnery training. All the 
younger pilots, however, were required 
to make an extended overwater flight 
from Eglin to Houston, Texas. On 24 
March, after less than a month's train- 
ing, the entire group was ordered to 
Alameda Naval Air Station in San Fran- 
cisco Bay where the naval task force 
which would carry the B-25's across the 
Pacific was already assembling. 

The plan for the impending raid on 
Tokyo was one of the best kept secrets 
of the war. Only a handful of men knew 
the entire plan at this time. Neither the 
pilots nor the ships' crews had yet 
learned their ultimate destination, 
though many may have guessed it by 
then. Not even the highest staff officers 
in Washington had anything to do with 
the project. This secrecy is strikingly 
illustrated by the response from the Mili- 
tary Intelligence Division of the War 
Department General Staff to the sug- 
gestion of an unidentified State Depart- 
ment official for a surprise blow against 
Japan on the Emperor's birthday, 29 
April. Except for the date, the State 
Department's proposal, forwarded to 
General Marshall by Hornbeck, was by 
coincidence identical in every respect to 
the operation already under way. The 
response from Military Intelligence, 
which was asked to comment on the pro- 

posal, was generally unfavorable and 
revealed a complete ignorance of the 
project. 15 

This secrecy extended even to the 
Chungking government which would 
have to make arrangements for the re- 
ception of the crews once they had com- 
pleted their mission. Chiang Kai-shek 
and Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, com- 
mander of U.S. Army forces in China, 
Burma, and India, were told only that 
certain fields in eastern China would be 
required for the use of American bomb- 
ers and that a quantity of aviation gaso- 
line and other stores must be available 
by 19 April. Chiang gave his assent on 
28 March without knowing what would 
happen, and it was not until 2 April, 
after the task force had already put to 
sea, that he was told that at least twenty- 
five B-25's were involved. After that 
date arrangements were quickly made 
for the arrival of the planes, the procure- 
ment of personnel and supplies, and for 
communications — no information was 
to be relayed over Chinese signal chan- 
nels. But already bad weather had set- 
tled over eastern China. 

Meanwhile Colonel Doolittle and his 
group had arrived at Alameda on 31 
March. There waiting was the carrier 
Hornet, Capt. Marc A. Mitscher com- 
manding, with two cruisers, four de- 
stroyers, and an oiler. Next morning 
sixteen of the B-25's — all there was 
room for — were hoisted to the carrier's 
flight deck and lashed down securely. 
At 1000 of the 2d, under cover of a thick 
fog, the Hornet and its escort steamed 

111 Ltr, Hornbeck to Marshall, 14 Mar 42; Memo, 
Col. Oscar N. Solbert, MI to WPD, 16 Mar 42, sub: 
Possible Double Play in Opns Against Japan, AG 
381 (3-14-42)- 



Colonel Doolittle and Captain 
Mitsgher on the Hornet. 

down San Francisco Bay and through 
the Golden Gate. Once away from shore 
the loud-speakers announced what the 
men already suspected — that the target 
was Tokyo. "Cheers from every section 
of the ship greeted the announcement," 
records the Hornet action report, "and 
morale reached a new high." Now for 
the first time it was possible to provide 
the bomber crews with target data and 
other information they would need. 

Weather during this first leg of the 
voyage was foul. Though the high winds, 
heavy seas, and frequent squalls reduced 
the danger of detection they also sub- 
jected the B-25's to damage from vibra- 
tion and exposure to the elements. 
Hornet's machinists checked the planes 
frequently to make certain the lashings 
were secure and to repair mechanical 
difficulties. On 13 April, after eleven 

days at sea, the Hornet force rendez- 
voused with a similar force out of Pearl 
Harbor at a point north of Midway at 
the date line. Led by Vice Adm. Wil- 
liam F. Halsey, Jr., who flew his flag 
from the Enterprise, the entire expedi- 
tion steamed westward toward Japan at 
sixteen knots, the 4 cruisers and 8 de- 
stroyers in the van and on the flanks, 
Hornet in the center, with the 2 oilers 
and the flagship in column behind. 

For four days, from 13 to 17 April, 
the task force nosed its way silently 
through the heavy seas of the North 
Pacific. 10 Overhead the planes of the 
Enterprise maintained constant vigil. 
On the 16th the Army bombers were 
spotted for the take-off. There was no 
space to spare on the crowded flight deck; 
the leading bomber (Doolittle's) had 
467 feet clearance, the last hung precari- 
ously over the edge of the ramp. About 
1,000 miles east of Tokyo, on the 17th, 
the carriers and cruisers refueled and 
speeded ahead at twenty knots, in the 
face of winds which had increased to 
gale force, toward the Japanese coast. 
Barring accident or interception the 
Hornet would be in launching position 
by sundown the next day. 

Unknown to Halsey and Doolittle, 
there had been a hitch in the plans. 
Fearing Japanese reprisal, Chiang had 
urged early in April, when the Hornet 
had already put to sea under radio 
silence, that the operation be postponed, 
or even canceled, but it was too late for 
such drastic measures. On the 15th he 
gave reluctant assent to the final plans 
and for the use of the fields in eastern 

"Since the task force crossed the date line, it lost 
one day on the way out. 



China, excepting only the one at Chu- 
chow which could not be made ready 
because of bad weather. It was just this 
field that all the crews had chosen for 
their landing, but there was no way to 
get the information to the task force 
without giving away its position to the 

Halsey and Doolittle had changed 
their plans too. To minimize the dan- 
ger of interception, the plan originally 
called for a nocturnal attack, launched 
about 500 miles off the Japanese coast 
on the afternoon of the 19th, with Doo- 
little taking off about three hours ahead 
of the others to light up Tokyo with in- 
cendiaries. This would bring the crews 
over Chuchow during daylight of the 
20th. But Halsey for some unaccount- 
able reason was a day ahead of schedule 
and there was no way to alert the Chinese 
so that the fields would be ready. Colo- 
nel Doolittle was not unduly concerned. 
The Chinese, he felt certain, would re- 
ceive ample notice of his arrival from 
Radio Tokyo. 

More serious were the developments 
of the 18th which forced a change in the 
hour as well as the day of the attack. 
At 0210 that morning Enterprise picked 
up two ships on its radar screen and 
altered course. The search flight sent 
out at first light confirmed the bad news 
that the task force had apparently struck 
the enemy's first line of patrol ships some 
two hundred miles further off the coast 
than expected. Worse than that, one of 
the search planes reported at 07 15 that it 
had been sighted. Again course was 
changed, but about a half hour later 
another enemy patrol ship was observed, 
this time from the deck of the Hornet. 
There could be little doubt that the task 
force had been discovered and reported. 

Enemy counteraction could be expected 
at any time. 

Halsey was now faced with the most 
critical decision of the entire voyage. 
Should he push on toward the Japanese 
coast to bring the B-25's to the position 
originally planned, withdraw to safety, 
or launch the bombers immediately? 
Whichever course he chose, he would 
have to strike a delicate balance between 
the risks to his carriers and the risks to 
the Army bombers. Japan was still 670 
miles away, more than 100 miles further 
than the air planners had considered safe 
for the bombing run. It was evident to 
Halsey that he could take his carriers no 
further without exposing them to attack. 
The bombers would have to take off now 
or not at all — the carriers must with- 
draw. His decision, made with Colonel 
Doolittle's concurrence, was to launch 
the bombers and risk attack, though 
Tokyo was still five hours' flight away 
and the prospect of the crews reaching 
the fields in China slim. At 0800 Hal- 
sey gave his orders: Hornet to turn at 
twenty-two knots into the wind and 
prepare to launch; Nashville to sink 
the patrol ship sighted fifteen minutes 

Aboard the Hornet the next hour and 
a half was full of excitement and ordered 
confusion. The wind was at forty knots 
and the sea so rough that the green 
waters washed over the carrier's ramps. 
After a few last-minute instructions the 
bomb racks were loaded and the planes 
readied for the take-off. It was 0818 
when Colonel Doolittle began his run 
down the flight deck and then roared 
upward to circle the Hornet once before 
heading west. The rest of the pilots 
followed quickly and without incident 
except for one "who hung on the brink 



of a stall until," wrote Admiral Halsey, 
"we nearly catalogued his effects." 17 By 
0924 the entire group was airborne and 
the task force reversed course and speeded 
for home at 25 knots, all radios tuned in 
for news from Tokyo. 

The flight of the bombers toward 
Tokyo Bay was uneventful, though they 
flew over warships and past Japanese air- 
craft. Apparently the patrol boat warn- 
ings had not yet been broadcast. In their 
favor also was the fact that Tokyo that 
morning was holding a full-scale air drill 
which was just ending when Colonel 
Doolittle's plane reached the city, com- 
ing in from the north at rooftop level, 
shortly after noon. Not a shot had been 
fired at his plane when at 1215 (Tokyo 
time) he and Lt. Travis Hoover in the 
second plane dropped their incendiaries 
and bombs. One antiaircraft battery 
answered the attack, apparently on the 
initiative of the gunners, but there was 
as yet no general alarm or understanding 
that an enemy raid was in progress. 

After this first bombing there was an 
interlude of about twenty minutes dur- 
ing which the air raid warning finally 
sounded. Then at 1240 eleven more 
bombers, which had reached the target 
by different courses, came in over the 
enemy capital, hitting factories, oil tanks, 
power plants, and military installations. 
The remaining three planes, loaded with 
incendiaries, hit Nagoya, Yokohoma, the 
Yokosuka Navy Yard, and Kobe. Though 
all the crews had been cautioned against 
striking nonmilitary targets it was inevi- 
table that they should and for this three 
of the fliers later paid with their lives. 
Fifteen of the sixteen bombers success- 

"William F. Halsey and Joseph Bryan, Admiral 
Halsey's Story (New York: Whittlesey House, 1947), 
p. 103. 

fully completed their missions. Not a 
single plane had been shot down, but 
the last and most dangerous portion of 
the voyage still lay ahead. 

Behind them the American pilots left 
a surprised and confused enemy. By 
later standards damage was slight, but 
the Japanese people could not doubt that 
the enemy had broken through the Em- 
pire's inner defenses to strike at the 
heart of the homeland. How it had been 
done the authorities did not yet know. 
The patrol boats had alerted them to the 
presence of the carriers, but they were 
puzzled by the fact that the aircraft 
which struck Tokyo had been Army 
bombers, not the carriers planes . they 
expected. The Japanese did not appar- 
ently associate Doolittle's attack with the 
carriers. The bombers, they thought, 
had come from Midway and they were 
still expecting a carrier-based attack the 
next morning, when the ships reported 
by the patrol boats would have come 
within launching position. It was some 
time before the Japanese accepted the 
truth that the carriers and the bombers 
were part of the same force. 

The rest of the story of the Tokyo 
raid — the landing of the fliers in China 
and their flight to safety — is one of 
heroism, suffering, and tragedy. Of the 
sixteen crews, fifteen made China with 
the help of a providential tail wind; the 
sixteenth landed near Vladivostok and 
its crew was interned by the Russians, 
escaping later to Iran. The planes over 
China, except one which came down 
along the coast, made their way through 
the darkness and rain until their fuel 
was exhausted without finding the des- 
ignated fields. Four of the bombers 
crash-landed and the crews of the re- 
mainder bailed out. Eight of the men 



fell into Japanese hands and 1 of those 
who had parachuted was killed in descent. 
Thus 71 of the 80 men who had started 
on the hazardous journey finally made 
their way to safety. 18 

The naval task force made good its 
escape also, evading the planes and ships 
the Japanese sent in pursuit and sinking 
several small vessels in the bargain. Once 
beyond the outer picket line, the voyage 
home was uneventful, and on 25 April, 
a week after the President had announced 
that planes from Shangri-La had bombed 
Tokyo, Halsey led his fleet into Pearl 
Harbor. All hands were looking for- 
ward to an extended shore leave, but 
already a new crisis was developing in 
the Coral Sea. 

Coral Sea and Midway 

Ever since early March, when the 4th 
Fleet and the South Seas Detachment 
had jointly occupied Lae and Salamaua 
along the northeast coast of New Guinea, 
the Japanese had been preparing for a 
seaborne invasion of Port Moresby, a 
move that would take them into the 
Coral Sea between Australia and the 
New Hebrides. The carriers and cruis- 
ers required for that operation had finally 
arrived at Truk on 29 April at which 
time orders for the long-delayed invasion 
were issued. 19 

The landings at Port Moresby — there 
were to be two of them — were to be 
made at dawn, 10 May, by General 
Horii's South Seas Detachment and a 
battalion of special naval landing troops. 
Both units were to leave Rabaul on the 
4th in a convoy whose maximum speed, 

"Four of the men who were captured by the 
Japanese were recovered after the war. 
"See above, rp". 217. | 

fixed by the old Army transports carrying 
the South Seas Detachment, was only six 
and a half knots. Since these slow ships 
would expose the convoy to air and naval 
attack, the Japanese made careful pro- 
vision to protect their troops. Direct 
support would be provided by a naval 
escort force comprising the small carrier 
Shoho, 4 heavy cruisers, and a destroyer 
squadron. Ranging farther afield, free 
to strike any Allied air and naval units, 
was a carrier division comprised of 2 
large carriers, the Shokaku and Zuikaku, 

3 heavy cruisers, and 7 destroyers under 
the command of Vice Adm. Takeo 
Takagi. In addition, 2 submarines were 
to take up positions in the Coral Sea and 

4 others along the eastern coast of Aus- 
tralia to intercept any Allied naval war- 
ships hastening to the scene. Finally, 
long-range bombers based at Rabaul 
were to strike targets in northeast Aus- 
tralia and interdict air and naval traffic 
in the Coral Sea and Torres Strait. 20 

For this venture, the Japanese, who 
had acquired considerable caution since 
the Allied reaction to the Lae-Salamaua 
landings, left nothing to chance. As a 
prelude to the invasion of Port Moresby 
by this sizable force, there would be two 
preliminary operations: first, the occupa- 
tion of Tulagi in the southern Solomons 
on 3 May; and second, the seizure two 
days later of Deboyne Island just off the 
east coast of Papua. With these islands 
in their possession, the Japanese would 

"This account of the plans and of the action which 
follows is based on the following sources: Japanese 
Opns in SWPA, 125-29; Hist of Army Sec, Imperial 
Gf/Q, pp. 5 iff; Hist of South Seas Detachment, pp. 
12—14; Southeast Area Naval Opns, I, pp. 2, 4, 15; 
Bismarck — Solomons Landing Opns, pp. 36-42; 18th 
Army Opns, I, p. 7; ONI Combat Narrative, The 
Battle of the Coral Sea OCMH; Morison, Coral Sea, 
Midway and Submarine Actions; Craven and Cate, 
AAF I, pp. 448—50. 



be able to provide shore-based air sup- 
port for the landings at Port Moresby 
and to cover the east flank of the invasion 
force during its approach. 

Even before the arrival of the large 
carriers at Truk on 29 April, the Jap- 
anese had already put the first part of 
this plan into effect. Four days earlier, 
aircraft from Rabaul had begun to bomb 
fields in northeast Australia. The Tulagi 
force moved out of Rabaul a few days 
later and on 2 May stood off the island. 
There was no opposition to the landing 
next day; the small Australian detach- 
ment had been warned and after destroy- 
ing what it could had pulled out for 
Efate in the New Hebrides. On the 5th 
the Japanese occupied Deboyne Island. 
Thus far everything had come off on 
schedule, exactly as planned. 

While these preliminary operations 
were in progress, the Port Moresby in- 
vasion force was moving into position 
for the landing. The South Seas Detach- 
ment and the special naval troops began 
loading on 2 May and on the 4th sailed 
out of the harbor to meet the naval 
escort. That same day the Shokaku and 
ZuikakUj steaming south from Truk, 
received reports of an Allied carrier-based 
attack on Tulagi and set course for the 
island at full speed. 

Despite continued reports of Allied 
naval forces in the Coral Sea, the Port 
Moresby convoy, reinforced by the 
Shoho group, which had supported the 
Tulagi landing, continued on its way. 
But on the 7th, when it was clear that 
the invasion force had been spotted, the 
transports and a portion of the escorting 
and supporting naval elements were 
ordered back to safety. Remaining to 
take up position for the impending 
battle were the carriers Shokaku and 

Zuikaku with their cruiser and destroyer 
escort in the open waters south of the 
Solomons, off San Cristobal. 

The presence of Allied naval forces in 
the Coral Sea was no accident. Ever 
since February, reports of Japanese con- 
centrations in the Northeast Area and in 
the mandated islands had been coming 
into Washington. By mid-April the time 
and place of attack had been fairly well 
determined from intercepted and de- 
coded messages and both Nimitz and 
MacArthur warned to expect a sea- 
borne invasion of Port Moresby. 21 Thus 
alerted, both Pacific commanders made 
preparations to frustrate this fresh Jap- 
anese venture, which, if successful, would 
prove disastrous to MacArthur's plans 
for the defense of Australia and would 
create a serious threat to the line of 

General MacArthur's slender naval 
resources were no match for the formi- 
dable Japanese fleet entering his theater 
but he did what he could. His chief 
weapon was the land-based Allied Air 
Forces, and under his direction Brett 
assembled all the planes that he could 
at bases in northeast Australia. From 
there, long-range bombers struck Rabaul, 
Lae, Buka, and Deboyne during the first 
week of May while reconnaissance planes 
kept constant vigil along the sea ap- 
proaches leading into the Coral Sea. It 
was these aircraft that discovered the 
Port Moresby invasion force on 6 May 
in the vicinity of Jomard Passage off the 
coast of Papua. 22 

2 *JIC Daily Summary, 19 and 24 Feb 42; Rad, 
King to Nimitz and Leary, No. 203a, 18 Apr 4a, both 
cited in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. IV, p. 50. 

"Allied Opns in SWPA, SWPA Series, I, pp. 46-47; 
Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 719, 13 May 42, 
OPD Exec Files. 



Most of the naval forces to meet the 
Japanese threat came from Admiral 
Nimitz' Pacific Fleet and were under his 
command. By noon 29 April he had 
made his plans. These called for the 
organization of a task force built around 
the carriers Yorktown and Lexington 
and under the command of Rear Adm. 
Frank J. Fletcher to rendezvous west of 
the New Hebrides and south of the Solo- 
mons. Fletcher's orders were simply to 
"operate in the Coral Sea commencing 
1 May." 23 By that time, his force would 
include an attack group of cruisers and 
destroyers, a support group of three 
cruisers — two of them Australian — from 
the Southwest Pacific, a search group, 
and a destroyer screen for the carriers. 
All together Admiral Fletcher would have 
in his command 2 carriers, 1 light and 
7 heavy cruisers, 13 destroyers, 2 tankers, 
and a seaplane tender. The submarines 
were not included in the task force; they 
would operate independently and patrol 
the coastal waters off northeast Australia 
and New Guinea. Thus, while the Jap- 
anese had a unified command for this 
operation the Allies were divided, with 
the bulk of the naval forces under Nimitz 
and the submarines and land-based 
aviation under MacArthur. 

This array of Allied naval strength was 
hardly large enough to warrant any great 
optimism over the outcome. But it was 
the best Nimitz could do at the moment. 
He had other forces — Halsey's two carrier 
groups, each with one carrier, had re- 
turned to Pearl Harbor on the 25th — 
but it would take time to overhaul the 
vessels and make the 3,500-mile journey 
to the Coral Sea. On the off-chance that 
the battle would be delayed and that 

"CINCPAC Opn Plan 23-42, 29 Apr 42; Morison, 
Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, p. 16. 

Halsey could reach the scene, Nimitz 
made provision for the two additional 
carriers in his plans and ordered Halsey 
to make ready for the action. 

The Japanese landing at Tulagi on 
3 May took the Allies by surprise and 
found Fletcher's force some 500 miles to 
the south, still refueling. Immediately, 
Admiral Fletcher, who flew his flag from 
the Yorktown, made for Tulagi at high 
speed. Next morning, he launched his 
planes against the Japanese in the har- 
bor, crippling a destroyer and sinking 
some small boats, and then returned 
to join the Lexington. The damage 
wrought by the raid was minor and had 
little effect on Japanese activities other 
than to alert them to the presence of 
American carriers and to bring the 
Shokaku and Zuikaku down to the area 
at full speed. 

During the next few days, as the Port 
Moresby invasion force moved toward 
the target, search planes from the Amer- 
ican carriers sought the enemy without 
success. Early on the morning of 6 May, 
when Brett's B-17's finally located a 
large force approaching Jomard Passage, 
word was flashed to Fletcher who at once 
ordered his fleet to set course for the 
enemy. All that day the fleet steamed 
northwest and the next morning Fletcher 
sent in the attack group of cruisers and 
destroyers to block the southern end o£ 
Jomard Passage through which the Shoho 
and the convoy's screen would pass. 

Unknown to Fletcher, the main carrier 
strength of the Japanese was nowhere 
near Jomard, but off to the south and 
east. Early on the 7th, Japanese scout 
planes spotted two American vessels, a 
tanker and a destroyer, and mistakenly 
reported the former as a carrier. The 
Shokaku and Zuikaku's bombers moved 



in for the attack. Against such easy prey 
the Japanese pilots had little difficulty, 
sinking the destroyer at once and fatally 
damaging the tanker. 

Meanwhile American aircraft had 
sighted the Shoho group and moved in 
for the kill, sinking the Shoho and a 
mine layer at 0930 of the 7th. But still 
neither side had definitely located the 
main force of the other. Throughout 
that day and into the night each searched 
feverishly for the other without success. 

On the morning of the 8th, the op- 
posing carriers, about 235 miles apart, 
located each other. The Shokaku and 
Zuikaku immediately launched their 
attack planes which made contact at 
093 o. At about the same time aircraft 
from the Lexington and Yorktown hit 
the Japanese in an attack that lasted less 
than two hours. The results seemed to 
be fairly even. Both the American car- 
riers were damaged, the Lexington seri- 
ously. Only one of the Japanese carriers, 
the Shokaku, was hurt badly, but the 
enemy had lost more planes. Of the 
original complement of almost 100 air- 
craft, the Japanese had less than forty. 
Neither side was in condition to continue 
the fight. 

Deprived of carrier protection and 
naval escort for the Port Moresby con- 
voy, which had remained out of the way 
throughout the battle, the Japanese 
commander decided to call off the in- 
vasion and turn back to Rabaul. From 
Admiral Yamamoto came swift disap- 
proval and an order to resume the fight 
and "annihilate the remnants of the 
enemy fleet." 24 But it was too late. For 
two days he tried to re-establish contact, 
but finally had to give up. 

Japanese in SWPA, 129. 

Explosion on the Lexington during 
the Coral Sea Battle. 

Admiral Fletcher's problem was more 
serious. The Lexington was burning 
badly and he must try to save it. Shortly 
after noon of the 8 th an internal explo- 
sion rocked the "Lady Lex." Soon there 
were more explosions and by late after- 
noon the Lexington's fires were beyond 
control. Fletcher realized that he could 
no longer hope to save the Lady and 
made ready to pick up her crew when 
the time came to abandon ship. All hope 
of returning to the battle was already 
gone when he received Nimitz' message 
to retire. That night the Lexington 
went down. Not a man was lost, and 
even the captain's dog was saved. 

The loss of the Lexington gave the 
victory to the Japanese, if victory is 
measured in ship losses alone. But the 
Japanese did not so consider it. Their 
plan to take Port Moresby had been 
frustrated; strategically the victory be- 



longed to the Allies. Coming as it did 
on 8 May, two days after the gloomy 
news of Corregidor's surrender, this vic- 
tory gleamed all the more brightly as an 
augur of the future. 

The defeat in the Coral Sea had little 
immediate effect on Japanese plans. 
These plans had originally called for the 
seizure of strategic positions in New 
Caledonia, the Fijis, and Samoa once the 
Port Moresby operation was over. 25 But 
the staff at Imperial General Headquar- 
ters;, which approved this plan on 28 
April, had hardly begun to prepare for 
operations against the Allied line of 
communications when the Navy proposed 
instead an attack against Midway and 
the western Aleutians. The Aleutians 
strike had already been discussed during 
March and the Army favored it. But 
Admiral Yamamoto who had first raised 
the possibility of such an attack against 
the Aleutians, regarded it as only one 
part of a larger plan whose main objec- 
tive was Midway. Admiral Nagano, 
Chief of the Navy General Staff, did not 
raise that aspect of Yamamoto's plans in 
the discussions with the Army planners. 
Apparently he was not convinced at this 
time of the wisdom of an attack against 
Midway, but Yamamoto soon brought 
him around to his point of view. On 16 
April, Nagano issued orders calling for 
a simultaneous attack on Midway and the 
Aleutians early in June, followed by the 
New Caledonia-Fiji-Samoa operation. 

These orders were merely a statement 
of naval intentions and would not be- 
come approved war plans until the Army 
gave its consent. But Nagano for some 
unexplained reason did not mention 
Midway during the debate over the in- 

vasion of Australia which led to the 
agreement of 28 April. Once again 
Yamamoto turned the powers of his per- 
suasion on Nagano. Now he had the 
Tokyo raid, which the Japanese then 
thought had originated from Midway, to 
bolster his argument. Unless that island 
was occupied, he warned, there might 
be more American air raids against the 
homeland. Again Admiral Nagano 
bowed to the wishes of his forceful 

Thus, at the beginning of May, the 
Army planners received from their naval 
colleagues a plan for operations against 
Midway and the Aleutians. General 
Sugiyama, Chief of the Army General 
Staff, thought the plan overbold and 
opposed it, but the Navy was united. 
Nagano, stoutly backed by Yamamoto, 
insisted that Midway must be taken and 
if the Army refused to go along, the Navy 
would have to act independently. After 
a brief struggle, General Sugiyama finally 
gave in, influenced no doubt by Nagano's 
assurance that only a very small Army 
force, about one regiment, would be re- 
quired. On 5 May, before the Coral Sea 
battle, Imperial General Headquarters 
issued orders for the Midway-Aleutians 
operation, to take place early in June. 
The New Caledonia-Fiji-Samoa opera- 
tion would be postponed until after 
Midway and the western Aleutians had 
been occupied. 28 

The decision of 5 May was, in a real 
sense, a victory for Admiral Yamamoto. 
In the five months since the start of the 

"See above, p. 217 

M Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, pp. 48, 50; 
Aleutians Naval Opns, Mar 42— Feb 43, pp. 2, 5—6; 
Midway Opns, pp. 3-5, 27, Japanese Studies in World 
War II, 53 and 96; Japanese Opns in SWPA, 124—25; 
Interrog of Generals Tanaka and Arisue; Statements 
of Admiral Tomioka and Colonel Hattori, Statements 
of Japanese Officials, IV, 315, I, 331—32. 



war, the Combined Fleet had moved 
back and forth across the waters of the 
Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Ceylon, 
destroying everything in its path. It had 
sunk 5 of the enemy's battleships, 1 air- 
craft carrier, 2 cruisers and 7 destroyers; 
damaged a number of capital ships; and 
destroyed thousands of tons of merchant 
shipping and fleet auxiliaries. The cost 
had been small: 3 of the carriers had lost 
heavily in planes and skilled pilots; 23 
small naval vessels, of which the largest 
was a destroyer, and about 60 transports 
and merchant ships had been sunk. The 
time was ripe, Yamamoto firmly believed, 
for a decisive blow. Pearl Harbor had 
only crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet; the 
attack on Midway, by forcing Nimitz 
into a fleet engagement, would give the 
Japanese an opportunity to destroy it. 27 

The Battle of the Coral Sea did not 
alter Yamamoto's views, though it meant 
that the Shokaku and Zuikaku would 
not be available for the Midway opera- 
tion and that there would have to be 
another try for Port Moresby. But that 
was placed on the bottom of the list, to 
be made after New Caledonia, the Fijis, 
and Samoa had been taken. Midway and 
the Aleutians now had first priority and 
planning for them went forward rapidly. 

Concurrently with the planning for 
Midway and the Aleutians, the Army 
and Navy staff in Tokyo made prepara- 
tion for the operations which would fol- 
low, and on 18 May established the ijth 
Army under Lt. Gen. Haruyoshi Hyaku- 
take. His orders were to co-operate with 
the Combined Fleet in the capture of 
New Caledonia, the Fijis, and Samoa, in 
order to "destroy the main enemy bases 

" Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, pp. 285- 
86, and Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Action, 
PP. 5. 74-76- 

in those areas, establish operational bases 
at Suva and Noumea, gain control of the 
seas east of Australia, and strive to cut 
communications between Australia and 
the United States." 28 Early July was the 
date tentatively selected for the start of 
these operations, provided that the fleet 
was ready. 

General Hyakutake lost no time in 
getting ready. His total force consisted 
of about nine infantry battalions and 
support would be furnished by the 2d 
Fleet, with attached carriers, and the 11th 
Air Fleet. The South Seas Detachment, 
scheduled to take New Caledonia, was 
to assemble at Rabaul in the latter part 
of June; the two detachments selected to 
seize the Fijis and Samoa were to be 
ready at Truk early in July. When these 
operations were concluded, the Japanese 
would make a second try for Port 
Moresby. 29 

Meanwhile Admiral Yamamoto had 
completed his plans for the Midway- 
Aleutians campaign. The Aleutians force 
was built around the carriers Junyo and 
Ryujo and included, in addition to the 
landing force, submarines to patrol the 
west coast. 30 For the Midway operation, 
Yamamoto organized the most formi- 
dable force the Japanese had assembled 
since Pearl Harbor. The occupation 
force numbered about 5,000 Army and 
Navy troops whose transports would be 
protected by a strong escort. The main 
body of the fleet with which Yamamoto 
hoped to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet 
comprised a carrier force of 4 large car- 
riers, the A kagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and Soryu, 

^Imperial GHQ Army Order 19, 18 May 4s, in 
Japanese Opns in SWPA, 125. 

"ijth Army Opns, I, pp. 4, 6; Statement of 
Admiral Tomioka. 

80 One of the submarines stood off Seattle while one 
of its planes scouted the harbor. 



together with battleships, cruisers, de- 
stroyers, and auxiliaries; an attack force 
of 3 battleships, including the 60,000-ton 
Yamato, flagship of the expedition, a 
light carrier, tenders, miscellaneous ves- 
sels, and a screen of 16 submarines. 
Yamamoto's plan was to open the cam- 
paign on 3 June by an attack on Dutch 
Harbor followed by the occupation of 
the western Aleutians. The carriers 
then would soften up Midway, while the 
attack force, led by Yamamoto himself, 
would move in and finish off the Pacific 
Fleet if it challenged the carriers. Finally, 
on the night of 6 June, the landing force 
would take Midway. But the success of 
the plan depended, as Yamamoto well 
knew, on the defeat of the American 
fleet. So long as that fleet was intact, 
victory at Midway or in the Aleutians 
would at best be a hollow one. 31 

In the last week of May the Japanese 
began moving into position. The Aleu- 
tians force left Japan first, followed on 
27 May by the carriers, led by the same 
Admiral Nagumo who had commanded 
in the strike on Pearl Harbor. The next 
day the landing force, which had been 
assembled at Saipan, completed loading 
and sailed for the rendezvous point, ac- 
companied by the covering cruisers and 
destroyers. The following morning (0600 
of the 29th) , Admiral Yamamoto left 
Tokyo Bay with the main body of the 

Again, as in the Coral Sea, the Jap- 
anese found the American fleet waiting 
for them. As before, the warning had 
come from intelligence sources which 
had broken the Japanese codes and thus 
acquired advance information on the 

"Morison, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine 
Actions, pp. 74-79, 87-90. 

next Japanese move. The Battle of the 
Coral Sea had barely closed when these 
intelligence sources revealed that the 
Japanese were collecting a large task 
force in home waters for an operation 
scheduled for late May or June. Just 
where the attack would come was not yet 
known but Admiral King thought it 
might be another attempt at Port Mores- 
by or against New Caledonia and the 
Fijis. 32 

In support of this view King could 
turn to the estimate made by General 
MacArthur some days earlier and with- 
out reference to intelligence sources. 
The end of resistance in the Philippines 
— the message was dated two days after 
the surrender of Corregidor — and the 
British defeat in Burma, MacArthur had 
written, would probably release Jap- 
anese forces for use elsewhere. Unlike 
the British who feared the Japanese 
would move in force into the Indian 
Ocean after the strike against Ceylon 
early in April, he thought the enemy 
would probably strike against New 
Guinea and the line of communications. 
Thus far he and King were in agree- 
ment, while the Army planners were 
inclined to minimize the threat in the 
Pacific and side with the British. The 
Japanese, MacArthur pointed out, had 
the bases for an offensive in the Pacific 
but not for large operations against 
India. To guard against the next Jap- 
anese attack, therefore, he recommended 
"adequate security for Australia and the 
Pacific Area . . . followed at the earliest 
possible moment by offensive action or 
by at least a sufficiently dangerous initial 

n Rad, NLmitz to King, No. £347, 10 May 41, cited 
in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. V, p 51; 
Memo, Ring for Marshall, is May 48, sub: Sit in 
SPA and SWPA, OPD Exec Files. 



threat of offensive action to affect the 
enemy's plans and dispositions." 38 

This estimate, when taken with intelli- 
gence of Japanese concentrations, com- 
bined to produce in Washington a 
change in plans. At the insistence of 
Admiral King, Generals Marshall and 
Arnold finally agreed to an increase in 
the air strength of New Caledonia and 
the Fijis, despite the earlier decision not 
to do so. Heavy and medium bombers 
en route to Australia were to be diverted 
to these two garrisons, together with an 
antiaircraft regiment for the Fijis, to 
come from the Hawaiian force. Mac- 
Arthur, it was realized, would probably 
protest this diversion of his heavy bomb- 
ers, but Marshall and Arnold decided 
they would meet that contingency when 
it arose. 34 

Before this program of reinforcement 
began, the cryptanalysts learned that the 
enemy objectives would be Midway and 
the Aleutians. 35 This information was 
immediately passed to Nimitz and Mac- 
Arthur, and orders went out to keep the 
heavy and medium bombers scheduled 
for New Caledonia and the Fijis in 
Hawaii. The Marine garrison at Mid- 
way was reinforced and began feverishly 
to prepare the ground defenses of the 
island against invasion. The Marine air 
group there was brought up to strength 

"*Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 176, 8 May 42, 
OPD Msg File. 

"Memos, King for Marshall, 12 May 42, sub: Sit in 
SPA and SWPA; Marshall for Eisenhower, same date, 
both in OPD Exec Files; Marshall for King, 13 May 
42, sub: Sit in South Pacific, OPD 381 Australia; Rad, 
King to Nimitt, No. 2410, 13 May 42, OPD 381 PTO 
sec. 1 case 22. 

"Rads, Emmons to Marshall, 16 May 42, CM-IN- 
5477; Nimitz to King, No. 0639, 14 May 42, ABC 381 
(1-22-42 sec. 2) Pacific Bases; Memo, King for 
Marshall, 18 May 42, sub: Hawaiian and Alaskan 
Defenses. OPD Exec Files. 

(64 aircraft) and 15 Army B-17's were 
flown in at the end of May. With other 
reinforcements and exclusive of the 
Marine air group, the air strength at 
Midway by 3 June consisted of 30 PBY's, 
4 B-26's, 17 B-i7*s, and 6 TBF's. 86 In 
the North Pacific, a task force of four 
heavy cruisers and eight destroyers was 
organized to meet the naval threat and 
all air elements in the area, including a 
few B-17's that were rushed out, were 
quickly mobilized for the defense of 
Alaska and the Aleutians. 

To meet the threat of the main force 
of the Japanese fleet off Midway, Admiral 
Nimitz had only limited naval forces. 
The Lexington was gone, the Yorktown 
damaged. All the fleet's battleships were 
on the west coast. The Saratoga and 
Wasp were on orders for the Pacific, but 
were not scheduled to arrive until late 
June. Only the Enterprise and Hornet 
(Task Force 16) , lately returned from 
the South Pacific after the Tokyo raid 
and now commanded by Rear Adm. 
Raymond A. Spruance during Halsey's 
hospitalization, were ready at Pearl Har- 
bor on 26 May, the day Nagumo took his 
carriers out of the Inland Sea. Next day 
Fletcher brought his Yorktown force in 
and the repair crews at Pearl performed 
the miracle of getting it ready for action 
in about two days. Thus Nimitz had at 
the end of the month a force of 3 carriers, 
1 light and 7 heavy cruisers, 13 destroy- 
ers, and 25 submarines. On 2 June these 
vessels rendezvoused at a point 350 miles 
northeast of Midway, where Admiral 
Fletcher assumed command of the entire 
force. Next day the fleet was waiting 
200 miles north of Midway for the ap 
pearance of the enemy. Fletcher's orders 

"Craven and Cate, AAF I, 455-56. 



were to avoid a surface engagement with 
the more powerful Japanese fleet and to 
seek a decision by air action. 37 

Meanwhile, the Seventh Air Force in 
Hawaii had been making its own prepa- 
rations for the battle. On the 18th the 
air force had been placed on a special 
alert and thereafter intensified its search 
missions. In the days that followed, Maj. 
Gen. Clarence L. Tinker, commander of 
the Seventh Air Force, received a steady 
stream of reinforcements and by the end 
of the month had in commission 44 
B-i7's, 4 B-18's, and 101 P-40's, with 
more planes arriving almost daily. 38 

But these measures did not satisfy 
General MacArthur, who was still con- 
cerned over the security of Australia and 
asking for reinforcements, including air- 
craft carriers. In justification, Marshall 
carefully explained the reasons for this 
concentration at Midway, pointing out 
the enemy was "endeavoring to maneuver 
our Pacific Fleet out of position. . . . The 
future of Australia will hinge on our 
preliminary deployment to meet this 
situation and our countermoves." 39 
Should the Japanese move against Aus- 
tralia instead of Midway, Marshall 
assured his former chief, then the rein- 
forcements diverted to Hawaii "will 
immediately be dispatched to your assist- 
ance." "Your needs," he went on, "are 
being given every consideration possible 
in light of developing situation." 

MacArthur took quick advantage of 
this opportunity to point out again that 
"lack of seapower in the Pacific is and 
has been the fatal weakness in our posi- 

"Morison, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine 
Actions, pp. 81-82, 97; Ltr, Spruance to Hoover, 
17 Jul 59, OCMH. 

" Craven and Cate, AAF 1, 454-55. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 109, 22 May 
OPD 381 Gen, sec. 1. 

tion since the beginning of the war." 40 
Since the enemy's intentions were known, 
he thought the "Indian and Atlantic 
Oceans should be temporarily stripped 
in order to concentrate in sufficient force 
for this special occasion." Failure to do 
this, he warned, might well result in 
"such disasters and a crisis of such pro- 
portions" as the United States had never 
before faced. 

General Marshall was away on an in- 
spection of the west coast defenses when 
MacArthur's message came in and it 
went to Admiral King for reply. Appar- 
ently King saw merit in MacArthur's 
proposal, for he himself suggested next 
day that the British Far Eastern Fleet be 
moved up to Colombo in Ceylon and 
that the Pacific Fleet be reinforced with 
carriers, battleships, cruisers, and de- 
stroyers from the Atlantic. At the same 
time he recommended that the move- 
ment of aircraft to the Pacific be given 
priority "even over Bolero." 41 These 
proposals struck at the heart of the deci- 
sion of 6 May to limit Pacific reinforce- 
ments to aircraft already authorized, 42 
and evoked from the Army planners 
strong opposition. General McNarney, 
acting for Marshall in his absence, imme- 
diately informed his chief of this newest 
development, but withheld official reply 
until Marshall's return on 27 May. The 
Chief of Staff was willing to support 
King's plan for naval reinforcements, 
but, like McNarney, opposed the alloca- 
tion of additional aircraft to the Pacific, 
or, as a matter of fact, any move that 
would interfere with the build-up for 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 119, 23 May 
42, CM-IN-6409. 

"Memo, King for Marshall, 24 May 42, sub: Sit 
in Pacific, WDCSA, S WPA . 

1 See above, p. 222 



Bolero. 43 This answer did not satisfy 
Admiral King or meet MacArthur's and 
Nimitz' demands for reinforcements of 
the Pacific, but there the matter rested 
until the crisis presented by the Japanese 
move against Midway and the Aleutians 
had been met. 

The Japanese, blissfully unaware of 
the reception being prepared for them, 
were meanwhile closing in on their ob- 
jectives. Far to the north, under cover of 
heavy fog and rough weather, the Aleu- 
tians force had by the 3d of June reached 
a point about 180 miles southwest of 
Dutch Harbor, from where the Junyo 
and Ryujo sent their planes aloft. 
Though alerted the day before when a 
PBY had spotted the two carriers, the 
aircraft at Dutch Harbor had been unable 
to locate the enemy and forestall the 
strike that followed. In addition to the 
damage to barracks and installations, the 
Americans lost about twenty-five men. 
Next day the weather was worse but the 
Japanese, now less than 100 miles away, 
struck again at Dutch Harbor, this time 
with more effect. But they did not get 
away unscathed; they lost five planes out 
of twenty-six to P-^o's from Umnak. 

While the Junyo and Ryujo planes 
were striking Dutch Harbor, American 
aircraft were groping in the fog and mist 
for the enemy carriers. A PBY sighted 
the Japanese force at 0845 of the 4th, but 
it was not until midafternoon that any of 
the bombers were able to locate the tar- 
get. And when they did they had to 
bomb almost blind through the fog. By 
this time the carriers had completed their 
task and were already withdrawing to a 
point from where they could screen the 

"Rad, McNarney to Marshall, No. 1096, 54 May 
42, AG 381 (5-24-42); Memo, Marshall for King, 
n.d., sub: Sit in Pacific, OPD 381 PTO sec. 1. 

landings in the western Aleutians, at 
Attu and Kiska, on 7 June. 44 

At Midway the Japanese had met dis- 
aster. Sighted on 3 June by one of the 
Midway search planes, the occupation 
force had come under attack from B-17's 
later in the day but had escaped. That 
night PBY's equipped with radar at- 
tacked again, this time hitting one of the 
tankers and strafing the transports. But 
this was only a preliminary to the real 
battle that came the next day when Ad- 
miral Nagumo's carrier force, which had 
already discharged its planes for the 
attack, was discovered to the northwest 
of the island. B-i'y's, B-26's, and 
Marine planes were already aloft and 
these sped to the scene while the remain- 
ing aircraft on Midway as well as those 
on the three American carriers made 
ready to take off. When the Japanese 
aircraft, seventy-two bombers and thirty- 
six fighters, moved in to the attack they 
met a warm reception. Badly hit, the 
Japanese nevertheless managed to inflict 
severe damage before they made their 
escape. 45 

Meanwhile, the Japanese carriers had 
come under heavy attack from the 
Americans. Bunched together, the Akagi, 
Kaga, and Soryu proved vulnerable tar- 
gets and all were fatally hit. The Soryu 
was dealt the last blow by the submarine 
Nautilus and went down at 1610; the 
Kaga joined her a few minutes later, and 
that evening the Akagi, which had been 

■"Craven and Cate, AAF I, 462-70; Morison, Coral 
Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, pp. 175-85. 

■"The B-17's bombed one of the surfaced Amer- 
ican submarines by mistake, but, fortunately, missed 
the target. General Emmons apologized to Admiral 
Nimitz for the error and asked him what should 
be done. "Have your air commander meet the sub 
on arrival at Pearl Harbor," replied Admiral Nimitz, 
"and invite the crew to have a drink." Ltr, Emmons 
to Hoover, 10 Jul 59, OCMH. 



set afire and was burning fiercely, was 
abandoned. Nagumo's fourth carrier, the 
Hiryu, launched its own attack on York- 
town, dealt her a lethal blow, and then 
was herself hit by dive bombers from the 
other two American carriers. Like the 
Akagi, the Hiryu was set afire and finally 
abandoned on the morning of the 5th. 

The fate of the Japanese carriers de- 
cided the issue. Yamamoto's vain effort 
on the night of the gth to snatch victory 
from defeat by an attack against the 
island was a measure of desperation and 
only resulted in fresh disaster. Two of 
his cruisers collided and had to retire, 
only to be hit the next day by planes 
from the Enterprise and Hornet, One 
was sunk and the other badly damaged. 
Yamamoto's main body — the battleship 
division, three destroyer divisions, and 
the Aleutians force — was still intact and, 
in a final effort to destroy the Pacific 
Fleet, Yamamoto sought to lure Admiral 
Spruance into a trap off Wake Island. 
But Spruance, though tempted, refused 
to take the bait. By the afternoon of the 
7th Yamamoto knew his last hope was 
gone and started for home. The sur- 
prise he had hoped to achieve had been 
gained by the enemy instead; he had 
been outmaneuvered, outsmarted, and, 
worst of all, had lost four carriers with 
their planes and pilots, the main striking 
force of the Combined Fleet. It was a 
blow from which the Japanese fleet never 
fully recovered. 46 

This disaster, the full extent of which 
was concealed from the Japanese public, 
had a decisive effect on General Hyaku- 

take's plans for the seizure, early in July, 
of New Caledonia, the Fijis, and Samoa. 
Four days after the battle ended, on 11 
June, Imperial General Headquarters 
postponed the operations for two months 
and later canceled them altogther." The 
capture of Port Moresby was now more 
urgent than ever to meet the threat of 
counterattack from Australia. An am- 
phibious operation was no longer possi- 
ble, however, and Imperial General 
Headquarters canceled the project at the 
same time it called off the New Caledo- 
nia-Fiji-Samoa operation. But it did 
not give up the idea of taking Port 
Moresby. Instead it directed Hyakutake 
to make plans for an overland drive from 
the east coast of New Guinea across the 
towering Owen Stanley Range. On the 
basis of this order and a naval survey for 
airfield sites, General Hyakutake ordered 
Horii, the South Seas Detachment com- 
mander, to land at Buna and reconnoiter 
the land route for an advance on Port 
Moresby. Finally, on 11 July, a month 
after it had canceled a seaborne invasion 
of Port Moresby, Imperial General Head- 
quarters gave its blessing to this new 
scheme for an overland attack. Ten days 
later the Japanese landed at Buna.* 8 

For the period between mid-March, 
the high-water mark of Japanese expan- 
sion, and late July the Japanese had 
precious little to show for their efforts 
other than a victory, already assured, in 
the Philippines. They had acquired a 
seaplane base at Tulagi on 3 May and 
soon thereafter began building an air- 
strip on the neighboring island of Gua- 
dalcanal. A month later they had seized 

"For the naval side of the battle, see Morison, 
Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, 101—55; 
for the Air Forces account, Craven and Cate, AAF I, 
456-62. The author used these accounts as well as 
many of the sources cited in both works. 

41 Imperial GffQ, Navy Order so, 11 Jul 4a; Japa 
nese Opns in SWPA, isg. 

*For a full account of these plans and the opera 
tions that followed see Milner, Victory in Papua, 



Battle of Midway. Japanese heavy cruiser of the Mogami class after being bombed by 
carrier-based aircraft. 

two islands in the bleak Aleutians, and 
then a beachhead at Buna from where 
they hoped to launch an attack against 
Port Moresby. The cost of these scat- 
tered holdings in planes, trained pilots, 
and carriers had been enormous. Until 

these losses were replaced and the super- 
iority lost at Midway regained, as it 
never could be in a race against Ameri- 
can production, the Japanese would have 
to go on the strategic defensive. The 
tide of victory had finally turned. 


The passage from the defensive to the offensive is one of the most delicate 
operations of war. 

Napoleon, Maxims 

In war, the only sure defense is the offense. 

General Patton 


Planning the Offensive 

Strategy is a system of expedients. It is more than knowledge; it is the 
application of knowledge to practical life, the art of action under the 
most trying circumstances. 

Von Moltke 

Though the decisive and far-reaching 
effects of the victory at Midway were not 
immediately apparent, it was clear that 
the Allies had temporarily gained the 
initiative in the Pacific. For the first 
time since the outbreak of war, they 
were in a favorable position to take the 

The prewar decision to concentrate 
Allied resources on the defeat of Ger- 
many and to pursue a defensive strategy 
in the Pacific — confirmed more than once 
since 7 December— did not preclude of- 
fensive action in this secondary theater. 
Rainbow 5 provided for limited offen- 
sives by the Pacific Fleet, and the Navy, 
once the shock of Pearl Harbor had 
worn off, showed no inclination to inter- 
pret the strategic defensive as a mandate 
ior inaction. Under the leadership of and Nimitz, the Navy sought 
eagerly and willingly every opportunity 
;o strike at the enemy whenever and 
wherever possible. Perforce, these oper- 
ations, conducted with small forces, were 
argely hit-and-run affairs which had lit- 
le more than nuisance value. Stronger 
measures were called for if the victory 
ained at Midway was to be exploited. 
The problem was to settle on an opera- 

tion that could be undertaken with the 
limited forces available and within the 
accepted strategic concept for the Pacific 
but which would produce more enduring 
results than earlier raids and strikes. 

Availability of forces and the direction 
of the Japanese advance rather than 
abstract strategic calculations ultimately 
determined the choice of Allied objec- 
tives. The Midway victory had ensured 
the security of Hawaii, and, in any case, 
the fleet was not yet strong enough for 
an advance across the Central Pacific. 
So that possibility was ruled out. Simi- 
larly, an advance by way of the Aleutians, 
where the danger was considered remote 
and the possibility of strategic gain small, 
was discarded. Only in the South and 
Southwest Pacific was the danger real 
and imminent. There the Japanese had 
advanced along the New Guinea coast 
and down the Solomons ladder until in 
May they reached Tulagi. And though 
frustrated in their attempt to take Port 
Moresby, there was little likelihood that 
they would abandon altogether their 
effort to gain control of Papua, and with 
it of the Coral Sea and Torres Strait. 
Should they succeed, and should they 
be allowed to retain control of the south- 



ern Solomons, then Australia and the 
line of communications would be in 
jeopardy. Thus, the choice of objectives 
quickly narrowed down to an operation 
in the southern Solomons. The removal 
of the threat there was cle arly an 
objective of the first importance. (Map 4) 
Offensive action in the Solomons was 
attractive for other reasons also. Not 
only was it believed that such an opera- 
tion would fall within the capabilities of 
the Allied forces en route or already in 
the theater, but, more important, that 
it would open the path for a drive on 
Rabaul, the major Japanese base in the 
South Pacific. The capture or neutrali- 
zation of that base, only 700 miles from 
Truk and the focal point of the Japa- 
nese advance southward, would make it 
possible for the Allies to support a drive 
later across the Central Pacific and to 
initiate an offensive that would bring 
the forces of MacArthur and Nimitz 
back to the Philippines. Once there 
they could cut the Japanese off from the 
strategic resources to the south and make 
ready to storm the citadel of Japan itself, 
if that should prove necessary. 

Early Plans 

The Navy, with its traditional interest 
in the Pacific, took the lead early in the 
war in the development of plans to meet 
the immediate Japanese threat and en- 
sure ultimate victory. Like their Army 
colleagues, the naval planners believed 
that before an all-out offensive against 
Japan could be undertaken it would be 
necessary to build American defenses in 
the Pacific and assemble large forces 
there. It was in the application of this 
principle, in timing and in the alloca- 
tion of resources, that differences arose. 

The Army planners wanted to establish 
a line that could be held with minimum 
forces, and generally opposed large rein- 
forcements to the defense of this line 
unless vital American interests were in- 
volved. Short of such a challenge, they 
were willing apparently to accept the 
loss of territory rather than divert to 
the Pacific the resources allocated to the 
war against Germany. 

The naval planners never fully 
accepted this view, even when it was 
indorsed by the President, and were will- 
ing to risk the delay of Bolero in order 
to hold the Pacific. Firmly and with 
conviction they consistently argued that 
until such time as the all-out offensive 
against Japan could begin, the United 
States must maintain and improve its 
strategic position in the Pacific while 
taking every opportunity to strike at the 
enemy to prevent him from becoming 
so firmly entrenched that it would be 
extremely difficult to dislodge him. 1 It 
was this view that prompted Admiral 
King to instruct Nimitz shortly after 
the Pearl Harbor attack to extend his 
operations westward toward the Fijis and 
to undertake raids and limited offensives 
wherever possible. 2 

The desirability of offensive action in 
New Guinea and the Solomons became 
apparent early in February after the 
Japanese began to move southward from 
Rabaul. The necessity for defensive 
measures was still paramount, but the 
Navy, in recommending the establish - 

'The clearest statement of the naval view is to tx 
Found in Memo, King for JCS, 4 May 42, sub: Defense 
of Island Bases, JCS 48; the Army view in Memo 
WPD for CofS, 28 Feb 4a, sub: Strategic Conceptioi 
. . . , OPD Exec Files. 

3 See above, [pT 205;! Hayes, The War Against Japan 
ch. VI, p. 2. 



D. IMmes. Jr. 

MAP 4 

ment of an outpost at Funafuti in the 
Ellice Islands, did not fail to point out 
that the island could also serve as a base 
for future offensive operations. The 
Army planners opposed this measure, 
arguing that until the United States was 
ready to open a sustained offensive "our 
island commitments should be limited 
to those necessary to secure our routes 
to critical areas." Every additional gar- 
rison, General Gerow pointed out, 
meant the further diversion of air and 
ground forces and the use of critical 
shipping. 8 The Joint Chiefs finally gave 

'Memo, Gerow for CofS, 10 Feb 42, sub: Advance 
ase in Ellice Islands, and related papers in ABC 
81 Ellice Is (2-5-42), 

their approval to the Funafuti project 
on 16 March. 

While this project was still under dis- 
cussion, Admiral King, it will be re- 
called, had proposed on 1 8 February that 
bases be established also at Efate in the 
New Hebrides and Tongatabu. Offered 
primarily as a defensive measure to secure 
Australia and the line of communica- 
tions, the proposal to establish a base 
at Efate, like that for Funafuti, carried 
clearly the implication of an early offen- 
sive in the area. This implication was 
not lost on the Army planners and was 
confirmed some weeks later when Admi- 
ral King explained, in support of his 
proposal, that current naval strategy 



included a drive northwest from bases 
("strongpoints," he called them) in the 
New Hebrides through the Solomons 
and New Guinea to the Bismarck Archi- 
pelago. A garrison at Efate, therefore, 
would serve the double purpose of pro- 
tecting the line of communication and 
providing a spring-board for a "step-by- 
step general advance." Marine forces, 
King thought, would make the landing 
and capture each position after which 
Army troops could move in to occupy 
the islands, thus relieving the marines 
for the next step forward. 4 

Not only did Admiral King's exposi- 
tion of naval strategy fail to evoke any 
objection from the Army planners who 
had only a short time before expressed 
strong views on the subject, but within 
a few days it received the powerful 
sanction of Presidential approval. At a 
White House meeting on 5 March deal- 
ing, among other matters, with the im- 
pending loss of Java and the security 
of the line of communication to Austra- 
lia, Roosevelt made it clear that Aus- 
tralia and New Zealand would have to 
be held and that the Navy's concept of 
operations in the Pacific would prevail. 
The President's understanding of the 
Navy's concept was based on a memo- 
randum King had written for him. In 
it the admiral had repeated substan- 
tially the same points he had made to 
Marshall in defense of the Efate pro- 
posal — the establishment of strongpoints 
along the line of communications and 
an advance into the Solomons and New 
Guinea similar to the one made by the 

'Memo, King for Marshall, 2 Mar 42, sub: Estab- 
lishment of Garrisons at Efate and Tongatabu, ABC 
381 (3—2-42). See also Memo, Marshall for King, 24 
Feb 42, same sub, OPD Exec Files; JCS Mins, 2 Mar 
42. F or the oc cupation of Efate and Tongatabu, see 
above jch. IX\ 

Japanese in the South China Sea. "Such 
a line of operations," King told the Pres- 
ident, "will be offensive rather than pas- 
sive — and will draw Japanese forces 
there to oppose it, thus relieving pressure 
elsewhere." 5 

This victory for the naval point of 
view was only one round in the long 
debate over Bolero versus Pacific pri- 
orities which ended temporarily in early 
May with the President's decision in 
favor of Bolero. 8 But while this debate 
was in progress, the Navy staff continued 
to develop plans for an offensive in the 
Pacific. By 16 April it had produced a 
plan which called for an offensive in 
four stages or phases. The first, already 
in progress, was the one in which the 
Allies would build up their forces and 
secure positions in the South and South- 
west Pacific for an offensive, while en- 
gaging in minor action against the enemy 
"for purposes of attrition." The next 
phase of the Navy plan consisted of the 
New Guinea-Solomons operations al- 
ready described by Admiral King. Also 
called for in this period were "heavy 
attrition attacks" against Japanese bases 
in the Carolines and Marshalls, a move 
that would inaugurate the long-delayec 
Central Pacific offensive envisaged in 
the old Orange plan. This offensive 
would reach more formidable propor- 
tions in the third phase of the Navy 
plan, when both the Carolines and Mar- 
shalls would be captured and convertec 
into advanced naval and air bases. Fron. 
these newly won positions as well a 
those gained in the Bismarck Archipel 

"Memo, King for Pres, 5 Mar 42, no sub, Alk 
323.31 (i-2g^2 sec. iA) POA; See also Mins, Whit 
House Mtg, 5 Mar 42, CCS 031 (3—5-42); Hayes, Th 
War Against Japan, ch. VI, pp. 7-8; Morison, Core 
Sea, Midway and Sub marine Actions, pp. 146—47. 

'See above! p. 222. 1 



Training on Australian Beaches for assault operations. 

ago during the second phase, the Allies 
would then advance into the Nether- 
lands Indies or the Philippines, "which- 
ever offers the most promising and 
enduring results." 7 Beyond that point 
the naval planners did not go. 

Nothing was done about this naval 
plan at the time; Coral Sea and Midway 
fully occupied the Navy's attention. But, 
interestingly enough, among the meas- 
ures proposed to meet the danger at 
Midway was one from Admiral Nimitz 
to General MacArthur for a landing at 
Tulagi by the ist Marine Raider Battal- 
ion, then in Samoa, supported by the 
naval forces of the Southwest Pacific. 

'Memo, WPD (Navy) for COMINCH, 16 Apr 4a, 
sub: Pacific Ocean Campaign Plan, cited in Hayes, 
The War Against Japan, ch. VI, pp. 7-8. 

Such an operation, Nimitz told Mac- 
Arthur, would accomplish two results: 
It would throw the enemy off balance 
at a moment when he was preparing 
a major blow in a distant area; and it 
would blunt his drive southward toward 
the New Hebrides and New Caledonia. 8 
With the objectives of this bold 
maneuver, General MacArthur was en- 
tirely in sympathy. Unfortunately, he 
explained, he did not have the forces 
to support such a move or to ensure the 
permanent occupation of the island, 
which was in his area, once it was taken. 
But he did have, he told General Mar- 
shall, his own plans for an offensive in 
the Solomons and suggested that, until 

"Rad, Nimitz to MacArthur, No. 0351, 28 May 4a, 
cited in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. VI, p. 1 1. 



such time as he was ready to put them 
into effect, Admiral Nimitz might well 
assist him by using his forces in the South 
Pacific for a push northward through the 
New Hebrides to the Santa Cruz group 
east of the southern Solomons. 9 

Admiral King, too, thought Nimitz' 
scheme impractical and recommended 
that he employ his forces in raids against 
whatever worthwhile objectives he could 
find in the area. Under no circum- 
stances, King warned Nimitz, should he 
engage in any operations that would 
involve the permanent occupation of a 
base without first getting approval from 
Washington. MacArthur would not 
even concede the advisability of raids. 
The Japanese, he pointed out, had a 
full regiment at Tulagi and could, from 
Rabaul, send troops into the southern 
Solomons a good deal faster than the 
Americans. 10 

General Marshall, to whom MacArthur 
had forwarded Nimitz' proposal, agreed 
that the time had not yet come for an 
offensive. But, he reported to Mac- 
Arthur, the Navy was "impressed with 
the possibilities of an early attack" on 
Tulagi and would try to assemble the 
forces required. Though the question 
of command had not been raised, Mar- 
shall assured the Southwest Pacific com- 
mander, who might have wondered why 
the Navy should be seeking forces for 
an operation in his area, that if such 
an assault was undertaken, it would be 

•Rads, MacArthur to Nimitz, 29 May 42; Mac- 
Arthur to Marshall, Nos. 840 and 217, 28 May and 2 
Jun 42, CM— IN-8352 and 0469; Memo, Marshall for 
King, 6 Jun 42, sub: Early Attacks on Japanese Bases, 
OPD 381 (PTO) case 41. 

l0 Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 217, 2 Jun 42, 
CM— IN— 0469, contains the text of King's message 
to Nimitz of 1 June; Rad, King to Nimitz, No. 0100, 
1 Jun 42, WDCSA Files, SWPA (6-3-42). 

under MacArthur's direction. "All deci- 
sions, including the extent to which you 
accede to any further proposals by 
CINCPAC [Nimitz]," he assured his for- 
mer chief on 1 June, "rest with you." 11 
If this was the case the Navy appar- 
ently did not know it. At the same time 
Marshall was reassuring MacArthur, 
Admiral Nimitz was telling Ghormley 
that he would continue to control ele- 
ments of the South Pacific force, even 
when they were operating in the South- 
west Pacific Area. 12 Thus, the Navy 
served notice that it would retain con- 
trol of the forces required for amphibi- 
ous operations, and therefore of the 
operations themselves, wherever they oc- 
curred. The Army for its part made it 
equally clear that the theater commander 
was the supreme authority in his own 
area, and, once an operation was ap- 
proved and the forces assigned, would 
control those forces and command the 

Strategy and Command 

Plans for an early offensive in the 
Pacific received their greatest impetus 
from the victory at Midway. The smoke 
of battle had scarcely cleared when Gen- 
eral MacArthur took the center of the 
stage with an urgent appeal for an imme- 
diate offensive to exploit the opportunity 
presented by the Japanese defeat. What 
he had in mind was not a raid on little 
Tulagi but a full-scale assault against 
New Britain and New Ireland to gain 
control of Rabaul and the strategic Bis- 
marck Archipelago. If his superiors in 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 161, 1 Jun 42, 

"Instr, Nimitz to Ghormley, 1 Jun 42, copy in 
WDCSA files, SWPA (6-1-42). 



Washington would give him, in addition 
to the three divisions he already had, 
a division trained for amphibious opera- 
tions (presumably marines) and the two 
carriers he had asked for so often, he was 
ready, he announced, to move out imme- 
diately. With confidence, he predicted 
he would quickly recapture the Bis- 
marcks and force the Japanese back to 
Truk, 700 miles away, thus winning 
"manifold strategic advantages both de- 
fensive and offensive" and making "fur- 
ther potential exploitation immediately 
possible." 13 

The initial reaction in Washington to 
MacArthur's characteristically bold plan 
was favorable. The Navy already had 
plans of its own for operations in the 
Solomons, which, though more limited 
in scope, had similar objectives. The 
Army was also considering an offensive, 
and General Marshall, only a few days 
earlier, had directed his planners to study 
the problems posed by operations in the 
New Britain-New Ireland area, assum- 
ing the use of a Marine division and two 
carriers. 14 Thus, during the days that 
followed, the Army and Navy planners 
to whom was entrusted the task of study- 
ing MacArthur's proposals were able to 
reach substantial agreement on the out- 
lines for an offensive in the Southwest 

The plan developed in Washington 
called, like MacArthur's, for a quick 
campaign against Rabaul. Landings in 

ls Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 913, 8 Jun 42, 
CM-IN-2264. The development of plans for the 
offensive after Midway is treated also in Matloff and 
Snell, Strategic Planning, 194T—42, pp. 258—267, and 
John Miller, jr., Guadalcanal: The First Offensive, 
(Washington, i949), [pp. 8— 31. | 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 10 Jun 42, CM- 

the Bismarck Archipelago, the planners 
recognized, would have to be preceded 
by intensive air bombardment of the 
enemy's bases in New Guinea and the 
Solomons. Only in this way could air 
support for the invasion force, an indis- 
pensable condition for success, be as- 
sured. But where would the aircraft 
come from: B-17's could reach any tar- 
get in the area, but the Allies had no 
fields within fighter range of Rabaul. 
Carrier aircraft was the answer and the 
planners asserted that three carriers with 
necessary escorts would have to be pro- 
vided, as well as the B-17's from Hawaii. 
The landing itself, the planners stated, 
could be made by the amphibiously 
trained 1st Marine Division, which, it 
was estimated, could be ready in Aus- 
tralia by 5 July. Once Rabaul was 
taken, it could be garrisoned by Army 
troops already in Australia — the 32d and 
41st U.S. Divisions and the 7th Austral- 
ian — and the area cut off reduced at 
leisure. On the touchiest question of 
all — command — the planners recom- 
mended that the operation be placed 
under General MacArthur with a naval 
officer in tactical control of the assault 
force. 15 

Agreement on the planning level was 
no assurance that Admiral King, who 
was in favor of an offensive but under 
different conditions, would accept this 
plan. That General Marshall expected 
opposition is evident in his warning to 
MacArthur, in reference to the aircraft 
carriers required for the operation, not 
to take any action until he, Marshall, 
had had an opportunity "to break ground 

18 Memo, Marshall for King, 12 Jun 42, sub: Opns 
in SWPA; Memo, Street for Ritchie, 23 Jun 42, sub: 
Offensive Operations in SWPA, OPD 381 (SWPA) 
case 73 and 80. 



with Navy and British. . . ." "I compre- 
hend fully the extreme delicacy of your 
position," replied MacArthur, "and the 
complex difficulties that you face 
there." 16 

Neither the effort to secure aircraft 
carriers for MacArthur from the Navy 
and the British nor the strategic concept 
of the plan was the main issue in the 
debate which ensued. It was the fight 
over command that became the crucial 
question. Admiral King struck the first 
blow when he remarked to Marshall 
almost as soon as he learned about Mac- 
Arthur's plan that the forthcoming offen- 
sive would be "primarily of a naval and 
amphibious character" — and therefore, 
by implication, should be under naval 
command. 17 Marshall ignored this re- 
mark. The success of any operation 
against the Japanese stronghold in the 
Bismarck Archipelago, he asserted, de- 
pended on speed and close co-operation 
between the Army and Navy forces in- 
volved. After enumerating these forces 
— including the carriers — he declared 
that a quick decision and unity of com- 
mand were the essential prerequisites 
to success. Further delay might wreck 
the entire project. 

Everyone agreed on the desirability of 
the operation and the need for speed. 
But MacArthur, staunchly supported by 
the Chief of Staff, insisted that it be 
under Army command; King and his 
senior advisers that it be under naval 
command. MacArthur's argument was 
a geographic one. Since the objectives 
were in his area, he declared, operational 

1B Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, 10 Jun 42, CM- 
OUT— 2319; MacArthur to Marshall, 11 Jun 42, CM- 

"Memo, King for Marshall, 11 Jun 42, sub: Mac- 
Arthur Dispatch of 8 Jun 42, WDCSA File (SWPA). 

control should be in his headquarters. 18 
The naval position was based on the 
concept that amphibious operations 
should be under naval command. But 
behind this view was Admiral King's 
reluctance to give MacArthur any of 
the Navy's precious aircraft carriers, and 
with them the battleships, cruisers, de- 
stroyers, and auxiliaries that would be 
needed for their support. 19 On that 
point he was adamant and not once 
during the war did MacArthur ever have 
any large carriers under his command. 

Although the naval planners, with 
their Army colleagues, looked with favor 
on MacArthur's plan and thought to 
solve the command problem by placing 
the operation under a naval task force 
commander subject to MacArthur's con- 
trol, they were unable to win over their 
immediate superior, Rear Adm. Charles 
M. Cooke, Chief of the Navy War Plans 
Division, or Admiral King. The plan- 
ners, these two believed, had placed too 
much reliance on air power. The ene- 
my's bases in New Guinea and the Solo- 
mons, both King and Cooke asserted, 
could not be knocked out entirely by 
bombing, and until they were it would 
be foolhardy to send aircraft carriers 
into the area, within the range of Japa- 
nese land-based aircraft. It would be 
safer, they argued, to go slowly and 
by stages up the Solomons to Rabaul, 
eliminating the enemy's bases and air 
power as they went along. 20 

When MacArthur learned of the ob- 
jections to his proposal he quickly shifted 

M Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 16, 18 Jun 42. 

a Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. VI, p. 15. 

"Memo, Ritchie for Street, 23 Jun 42, sub: Offen- 
sive Opns in SWPA, OPD 381 (SWPA) case 80; Rad, 
Marshall to MacArthur, No. 277, 23 Jun 42, CM- 
OUT-5704; Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. VI, 
pp. 15-16. 



ground. Admiral King, he protested, 
had misunderstood his plan and was 
laboring under a misapprehension. 21 In 
his original message, he said, he had 
purposely sketched only the broad out- 
lines of the plan and deliberately omit- 
ted the preliminary steps of an invasion 
of Rabaul. Certainly, he agreed, it would 
be necessary to gain positions in the Solo- 
mons and along the north coast of New 
Guinea before committing any forces in 
the Bismarck area. He had never had 
any other idea. 

But on the matter of command Mac- 
Arthur would not yield. Repeating the 
now-familiar arguments for placing the 
operation under his general direction he, 
like General Marshall, contended that 
"the very purpose of establishment of 
the Southwest Pacific Area was to obtain 
unity of command." The point was 
doubly emphasized by his protest, at the 
same time, to the procedure followed by 
Admiral King in sending instructions on 
operational matters directly to Admiral 
Leary, the commander of naval forces 
in the Southwest Pacific. Correct proce- 
dure would have been for King to for- 
ward these instructions to Marshall, as 
executive agent for the Joint Chiefs, who 
would in turn send them to MacArthur 
for Leary. Failure to follow the regular 
channels, MacArthur pointed out, made 
"a mockery" of the concept of unity of 
command, and of the organization estab- 
lished for the Pacific less than three 
months earlier. 22 

If Admiral King had misunderstood 
his plan, as MacArthur claimed, so, too, 
had the Army planners. Not only had 
they construed it as a quick blow directly 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 248, 24 Jun 42, 

against Rabaul but, with their naval 
colleagues, had found it entirely accept- 
able and superior to the much slower 
process of attacking successively Tulagi 
and other Japanese bases in the Solo- 
mons and New Guinea before assaulting 
Rabaul. To do that, the Army planners 
pointed out, would expose Allied forces 
to continuous attack from Rabaul during 
each stage of the advance. MacArthur's 
original plan they thought superior to 
King's for it avoided that danger and, 
in addition, eliminated the necessity for 
taking many preliminary positions. 
These, the planners believed, would fall 
of their own weight once Rabaul was 
seized. 23 

Actually, no one had misunderstood 
MacArthur, as is clear from the detailed 
plans prepared in his headquarters at 
this time. His objectives were the same 
as King's, but there were important dif- 
ferences in emphasis and timing. Mac- 
Arthur, it is true, admitted the necessity 
of capturing intermediate positions in 
New Guinea and the Solomons, a step 
King asserted was an essential condition 
to the advance on Rabaul. But King 
placed much more emphasis than Mac- 
Arthur on the capture of Tulagi and 
adjacent positions, and envisaged a much 
slower advance than did the South- 
west Pacific commander. MacArthur's 
Tulsa I plan, completed on 27 June, 
three days after his second message, pro- 
vided for the seizure of Rabaul in about 
two weeks, including the time required 
for the occupation of bases along the 
way. Obviously this plan, which neveT 
went to Washington, could hardly be 
characterized as a step-by-step advance 
such as King had in mind. Even the 

"OPD Memo, 22 Jun 42, sub: Estimate SWPA 
Offensive, 381 OPD (SWPA) sec. 2. 



General Handy 

planning officers on MacArthur's staff 
thought the timing of Tulsa too rapid, 
and recommended revision. The second 
draft of the plan, therefore, completed 
on 1 July, provided for a slower sched- 
ule, but one which hardly met the objec- 
tion. Rabaul was now to be taken in 
eighteen days instead of the fourteen 
originally allocated, and this time the 
plan called for an airborne operation — 
though there were no paratroopers in 
Australia — and the seizure of Buna as 
a staging point for the assault against 
Lae and Salamaua. Just how these 
places, as well as others, would be taken 
and developed into forward air bases 
in time to support the final attack on 
Rabaul — all in less than eighteen days — 
was not explained in the plan. Nor did 
General Chamberlin, MacArthur's G-3, 
yet know the answer. 24 

Despite the significant differences be- 
tween MacArthur's concept of operations 
and that of Admiral King, it was assumed 
in Washington that the debate over strat- 
egy had been settled. The only issue 
remaining was that of command and on 
that Admiral Cooke, the Chief of the 
Navy War Plans Division, would not 
give way. To all appeals from his own 
and the Army planners, Cooke turned 
a deaf ear. The Navy, he insisted, must 
command and the logical solution was 
to turn the operation over to Admiral 
Ghormley, commander of the South 
Pacific Area. Finally, on 24 June, Gen- 
eral Handy made one last effort to per- 
suade his naval opposite number to go 
along with the recommendation of the 
planners. But Cooke stood firm and 
Handy had to report that he had made 
no progress whatever and that the Navy 
would not consent to MacArthur's con- 
trol. "Cooke," he told Marshall, "was 
very emphatic and stated that he was 
expressing Admiral King's decision as 
well as his own view." 25 The issue, 
Handy concluded, would have to be 
settled between King and Marshall. He 
could do no more. 

Admiral King had not only made up 
his mind, but before the day was out 
had taken it on himself to direct Nimitz 
to make ready for the forthcoming 
operations. This alert, sent without con- 
sulting Marshall and at a time when 
operations themselves were still under 
discussion, took the form of a draft 
directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 
Though the directive, King explained, 
set forth only "contemplated" arrange- 
ments, it made perfectly clear his views 

"Extracts of Tulsa I and II are in OCMH. 

"Memo, Handy for Marshall, 24 Jun 43, sub: Opns 
in SWPA, OPD 381 (SWPA) case 76. 



Admiral Cooke 

on how the offensive should be con- 
ducted, and by whom. Nimitz would 
command; that was categorically stated. 
For the offensive he would have not 
only his own and Ghormley's forces, but 
also aircraft, ships, and submarines from 
MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area. 
The Army, in King's plan, would have 
no share in the assault; its role would 
be limited to furnishing garrisons for 
the islands taken by the Navy and 
Marine troops. 28 The next day, 25 June, 
King submitted this draft directive to 
the Joint Chiefs for approval, and with 
it a letter to Marshall stressing the need 
for action before the Japanese recovered 
from the defeat at Midway and this 
"golden opportunity" was lost. 27 

2S Rad, King to Nimitz, 2306, 24 Jun 42, OPD 381 
(SWPA) case 80. - 

2 'Ltr, King to Marshall, ser. 00544, 2 5 J un 42. OPD 
381 (SWPA) case 80. 

On the assumption that there was no 
real difference between MacArthur's and 
King's concept of the offensive, Marshall 
restricted his comments to the Navy's 
arrangements for command. These he 
found neither practical nor logical. In 
an appeal for a genuine acceptance of 
the principle of unity of command he 
asked King to reconsider. He appreci- 
ated fully, he wrote, the Navy's concern 
for the safety of its vessels and the great 
difficulty of co-ordinating land, sea, and 
air action, but he suggested that these 
objections to Army command might be 
eliminated if the Joint Chiefs defined 
the manner in which naval forces were 
employed and the waters in which they 
would operate. The "lines drawn on a 
map" — the geographical argument for 
MacArthur's command — Marshall con- 
ceded, should not govern the choice of 
commander, but he felt, nevertheless, 
that the operation which "is almost en- 
tirely in the Southwest Pacific Area and 
is designed to add to the security of that 
area," should be entrusted to MacArthur. 
He and his staff, including Admiral 
Leary, had been in the Southwest Pacific 
for months, Marshall pointed out, dur- 
ing which time they had learned much 
about the islands and the problems in- 
volved in operations there. To bring in 
another commander at this time, Mar- 
shall concluded, would be most unfor- 
tunate. 28 At the same time he told 
MacArthur, who was growing impatient 
at the delay, not to concern himself 
with the question of command. "I am 
now engaged," he explained, "in nego- 
tiations looking to settlement of the 

28 Memo, Marshall for King, 26 Jun 42, sub: Offen- 
sive Opns in the South and Southwest Pacific Area, 
OPD 381 (SWPA) case 80. 



question of unity of command under 
your direction." 29 

Admiral King showed no disposition 
to abandon his claim to naval control 
over the operations against Rabaul. The 
original directive to Nimitz, he pointed 
out to Marshall, had authorized him to 
"prepare for the execution of amphib- 
ious operations to be launched from the 
South Pacific Area and Southwest Pacific 
Area" — just such an operation as was 
then under consideration. He reminded 
Marshall, too, that he had recommended 
an Army command for Europe where 
most of the forces would be ground 
troops. And by the same reasoning, he 
observed, the operation in the Solomons, 
which would involve primarily naval 
and amphibious forces, should be under 
naval control. Permanent occupation of 
the area could be delegated to the Army, 
but the landings and the assault, King 
asserted, would have to be under Nimitz' 
direction; indeed, in his view, they could 
"not be conducted in any other way." 
MacArthur, he thought, could con- 
tribute little initially. Bluntly he 
warned General Marshall that he was 
ready to open the offensive, "even if no 
support of Army forces in the Southwest 
Pacific is made available." 30 And the 
next day he gave point to this threat by 
instructing Admiral Nimitz to go ahead 
with his preparations for the campaign, 
even though there would probably be 
some delay in reaching a decision on the 
extent of the Army's participation. 
Meanwhile, King wrote, Nimitz could 
proceed with his plans on the basis that 

^Rad, Marshall for MacArthur, 26 Jun 42, CM- 

"Ltr, King to Marshall, ser. 00555, *6 jun 4s, sub: 
Offensive Opns in South and Southwest Pacific Area, 
OPD 381 (SWPA) case 80, 

he would have the use of only naval and 
Marine forces. 31 

Resisting his first impulse to reply in 
kind to King's impolitic note, General 
Marshall waited instead for several days 
to compose a suitable answer. But while 
tempers in Washington cooled, General 
MacArthur found fresh cause for irrita- 
tion. First came a copy of King's mes- 
sage to Admiral Nimitz, then Nimitz' 
reply setting forth the forces, which in- 
cluded elements of MacArthur's own air 
and naval forces, that he would need for 
the operation. Finally, MacArthur found 
that King was again corresponding di- 
rectly with Admiral Leary, All these, 
MacArthur saw as clear warning of the 
Navy's intentions. To him, it was quite 
evident, as he told Marshall, that the 
Navy intended to assume "general com- 
mand control of all operations in the 
Pacific theater." If the Navy succeeded 
in this effort, the role of the Army in 
the Pacific, he warned, would become 
subsidiary and would consist "largely of 
placing its forces at the disposal and 
under the command of Navy or Marine 
officers." This objective, he pointed out, 
was the real purpose of the Navy's insist- 
ence on controlling operations in the 
Pacific, using marines as the assault force, 
and relegating the Army to occupation 
duties. It was all part of a master plan, 
which he had learned about "acciden- 
tally" when he was Chief of Staff, Mac- 
Arthur told Marshall. Under this plan, 
he asserted, the Navy hoped to gain com- 
plete control over national defense and 
reduce the Army to a training and supply 
organization. Having alerted his chief 
to the far-reaching implications of this 
perfidious scheme, MacArthur pledged 

"■OPD Cover Sheet, 27 Jun 42, sub: Offensive Opns 
Pacific Theater, OPD 381 (PTO) case 64. 



that he would take "no steps or action 
with reference to any component of my 
command" except under direct orders 
from Marshall. 32 

MacArthur's attitude was no more 
helpful in reaching agreement than 
Admiral King's and Marshall made it 
clear immediately that he was more 
interested in fighting the Japanese than 
the U.S. Navy. Whatever the outcome 
of the negotiations (and he hoped it 
would be in MacArthur's favor) , it 
would be necessary, he told the South- 
west Pacific commander, to throw all 
forces, Army and Navy, into the battle. 
MacArthur responded immediately with 
the assurance that he would use all the 
resources at his command against the 
enemy "at all times and under any con- 
ditions." Once the decision was made, 
he declared, he would co-operate to the 
fullest extent. 33 

Compromise: The 2 July Directive 

By the end of June, it was evident 
that neither MacArthur nor King would 
give in on the question of command. A 
compromise had to be found, and it was 
up to Marshall to find one and then 
persuade both parties to accept it. He 
made his first move on 29 June, when he 
replied at last to Admiral King's strong 
note of the 26th. In a calm and moderate 
tone, he observed that at least on the 
essential thing, the necessity for speedily 
mounting an operation against the Japa- 
nese and pushing it through to a suc- 
cessful conclusion, he and King were in 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 254, 28 Jun 42, 

"Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, 28 Jun 42, CM- 
OUT-7356; MacArthur to Marshall, 29 Jun 42, CM- 

agreement. But neither did he ignore 
King's scarcely veiled threat of unilateral 
action by the Navy. The implications 
of that statement disturbed him greatly 
and he told the admiral, in language 
almost identical to that he had used with 
MacArthur, that "regardless of the final 
decision as to command, every available 
support must be given to this operation, 
or any operation against the enemy." 
Finally, he asked King to meet with him 
at his earliest convenience to discuss the 
problem. 34 

It was as a result of the meetings 
between the two men — they met appar- 
ently on the 29th and 30th — that a basis 
for compromise on the troublesome 
question of command was finally evolved. 
Two solutions were offered by King. The 
first was a modified version of the sug- 
gestion made earlier by Admiral Cooke, 
to give command to Admiral Ghormley 
who would operate under the control of 
Nimitz. It was King's idea that this 
arrangement would hold only for the 
Tulagi operation; thereafter MacArthur 
would have control of the rest of the 
campaign against Rabaul. While this 
proposal was being studied, King made 
another: to give command of the entire 
Rabaul offensive to Ghormley, but to 
make him responsible directly to the 
Joint Chiefs in Washington rather than 
to Nimitz. This move would, in effect, 
put Ghormley on the same level as 
Nimitz and MacArthur and create a 
third command in the Pacific. 35 

"Memo, Marshall for King, 29 Jun 42, no sub, 
OPD 381 (SWPA) case 80. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 29 Jun 42, CM- 
OUT— 7501 with attached informal Memo from Mar- 
shall to Handy, OPD Exec Files; Memos, Marshall 
for King 1 Jul 42, OPD 381 (SWPA) case 80; King 
for Marshall, 2 Jul 42, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. s. 



General MacArthur, whose comments 
the Chief of Staff solicited, thought the 
proposal to shift command after Tulagi 
a poor one from the "standpoint of 
operational application." The entire 
offensive, he thought, must be consid- 
ered as a whole and not in parts. More- 
over, its success would depend upon the 
"complete coordination of the land, sea 
and air components," a condition dif- 
ficult to attain, he thought, under the 
arrangements proposed. To change com- 
mand in the midst of operations, at a 
time when it was impossible "to predict 
the enemy's reaction and consequent 
trend of combat," Mac Arthur warned, 
"would invite confusion and loss of 
coordination." 36 The conclusion was 
obvious. MacArthur should be in com- 
mand from the start and be responsible 
for co-ordination through the responsible 
air, ground, and naval commanders. 

King's second proposal was not even 
sent to MacArthur for comment. Mar- 
shall found it unsatisfactory and appar- 
ently did not consider it seriously as a 
basis for discussion. Instead, he offered 
King a counterproposal that skillfully 
combined the first proposal with an 
arrangement designed to meet Mac- 
Arthur's objections to it. The major 
feature of this compromise was the divi- 
sion of the offensive into three separate 
tasks whose objective was the seizure and 
occupation of the New Britain — New Ire- 
land area. Task one was the Tulagi 
assault and would be under the control 
of Admiral Nimitz; Ghormley was not 
even mentioned but presumably would 
exercise direct command. It would start 

about 1 August, at which time the 
boundary of MacArthur's area would be 
moved westward one degree to longitude 
159 east to put the southern Solomons 
in the South Pacific, thus meeting the 
objections of the proponents of the geo- 
graphic argument. As before, the Army 
would furnish the garrison for the island 
after it was taken but the forces would 
come from the South, not the Southwest 
Pacific. Task Two called for the seizure 
of Lae, Salamaua, and the northeast 
coast of New Guinea; Task Three, for 
the final attack on Rabaul and adjacent 
positions. Both would be under General 
MacArthur's control, but the Joint 
Chiefs would reserve for themselves the 
right to determine when command 
would pass from Nimitz to MacArthur, 
what forces would be used, and the 
timing of the tasks. 37 

Admiral King met this compromise 
plan, which Marshall thought the only 
way "we can successfully and immedi- 
ately go ahead," in the same spirit in 
which it was offered. He still believed 
that the offensive should be entrusted 
to Ghormley under the direct control 
of the Joint Chiefs "whose authority 
cannot properly be questioned by either 
principal — General MacArthur ... or 
Admiral Nimitz." But he was willing to 
forego this point "to make progress in 
the direction in which we are agreed that 
we should go," if Marshall would agree 
to defer a decision on Tasks Two and 
Three until a later time. Task One, 
which favored the Navy, King accepted, 
though he preferred placing it under the 

M Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. b6i, 1 Jul 4a, 

"Memo, Marshall for King, 1 Jul 42, sub: Joint 
Draft Directive for Offensive Opns in SWPA, OPD 
(SWPA) Case 80. 



Joint Chiefs rather than Nimitz. Mar- 
shall refused to accept this change and 
later in the day persuaded Admiral King 
to accept his original compromise. 38 

The Joint Chiefs approved the plan 
that same day, 2 July. There was only 
one change. Task Two, which originally 
mentioned only the seizure of Lae, Sala- 
maua, and northeast New Guinea, now 
called for the capture of the "remainder 
of the Solomon Islands" as well. 39 Thus, 
MacArthur was made responsible, with- 
out any preliminary notice or discussion, 
for an area which would witness some of 
the bitterest righting of the Pacific war. 

At the same time that the directive 
for operations in the Solomons and New 
Guinea was approved, Admiral King 
gave his consent to two proposals he had 
long opposed. The first of these was the 
creation of an Army command for the 
South Pacific Area, the post which went 
to General Harmon. 40 The second was 
the Army's plan for the formation of 
two mobile air forces in the Pacific thea- 
ter, consisting of heavy bombers and 
stationed at each end of the line of com- 
munications in Hawaii and Australia. 
For months King had been insisting that 
heavy bombers must be stationed along 
the line of communications as well as in 
Hawaii and Australia, but he now sud- 
denly abandoned his position and agreed 
to the Army's scheme under which the 
bombers would be available for opera- 
tions anywhere in the Pacific "as may 
be directed by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff." 41 

"Memo, King for Marshall, 2 Jul 42, OPD 384 

"Joint Directive for Offensive Opns in SWPA, 2 
Jul 42, OPD a8i (SWPA) case 83. 

These arrangements completed, Admiral 
King set off for San Francisco to meet 
Admiral Nimitz — who was slightly 
injured in an air accident on the way — 
to explain personally to him the plans 
that had been made and his hopes for 
the future. 

Thus was ended the debate that had 
consumed much of the time of the Wash- 
ington and Pacific staffs and their chiefs 
for almost a month. Marshall, who had 
never given up the fight for the principle 
of unity of command, had displayed 
throughout a high order of military 
statesmanship. Avoiding the extreme 
position of both King and MacArthur, 
he had ably defended the point of view 
of his own service and fashioned a com- 
promise that offered an effective instru- 
ment for the prosecution of the war. His 
satisfaction with the outcome was evi- 
dent when, on the 3d, he told MacArthur 
that "a workable plan has been set up 
and a unity of command established, 
without previous precedent for an offen- 
sive operation." 42 That there would be 
further difficulties he did not doubt, but 
so long as there was the will to co-oper- 
ate he was optimistic about the future. 
"I wish you to make every conceivable 
effort to promote complete accord in 
this affair," he told MacArthur. "There 
will be difficulties and irritations inevi- 
tably, but the end in view demands a 
determination to suppress these 
man if estations. ' ' 43 

To this plea MacArthur replied with 
assurances that he would co-operate 
fully. And as a mark of this co-operative 

See above,| Chap. XI 

41 Ltr, King to Marshall, ser. 00580, 2 Jul 42; OPD 
Memo for record, 4 Jul 42, sub: Pacific Theater Mo- 
bile Air Force, both in OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 1. 

"Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 334, 3 Jul 42, 



spirit he pointed to his invitation to 
Ghormley and Maj. Gen. Alexander A. 
Vandegrif t, commander of the 1 st Marine 
Division, to come to Melbourne to 
arrange for the co-ordination of their 
efforts in the coming operation. Finally, 
he suggested that Ghormley, after he 
completed Task One, should be retained 
as commander of forces afloat during 

Tasks Two and Three. 44 The prospects 
of a harmonious relationship between 
the Army and Navy were never brighter, 
but the task of making ready for the 
offensive to come would soon create 
fresh problems and renew their earlier 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. C-iai, 4 Jul 
42, CM-IN-1306. 


Preparations and Problems 

A plan of campaign should anticipate everything which the enemy can 
do, and contain within itself the means of thwarting him. Plans of 
campaign may be infinitely modified according to the circumstances, the 
genius of the commander, the quality of the troops and the topography 
of the theater of war. Napoleon, Maxims 

In the South Pacific, preparations for 
the coming offensive had begun even 
before the Joint Chiefs had given their 
approval. Before he left Washington on 
1 May, Admiral Ghormley had been 
alerted to the possibility of operations 
and since then had been kept informed 
of the discussions between the Army and 
Navy planners. Finally, on 25 June, he 
received word through Admiral Nimitz 
that the time had come to make his 
plans. Immediately he called General 
Vandegrift and his staff from Welling- 
ton, where the 1st Marine Division was 
located, to a conference in Auckland. 
It was then that the marines, who had 
not expected to go into action until the 
end of the year, learned for the first time 
of the plans to invade the Solomons and 
of their role in the campaign. They 
would have to be ready on 1 August, 
the tentative date for the landing. There 
was little time and the division was far 
from ready, but the marines did the best 
they could, cloaking their preparations 
under the guise of amphibious training. 

Logistics and Strategy 

Assembling the troops earmarked for 
the landing presented considerable dif- 

ficulties. Only the 5th Marines, division 
headquarters, and miscellaneous ele- 
ments of the 1st Division were actually 
in the theater. Of the other two infantry 
regiments, one, the 1st Marines, was at 
sea, and the other, the 2d, attached to 
the 1st Division for the operation, had 
not yet left San Diego. The division's 
artillery component, the 11th Marines, 
was with the 1st, en route to Wellington, 
where it was scheduled to arrive on 1 1 
July. The large fleet of warships, trans- 
ports, and cargo vessels required for the 
operation was scattered from Brisbane 
to San Diego. 1 

The logistical difficulties facing Gen- 
eral Vandegrift were imposing. With 
the limited dock facilities at Welling- 
ton, it was necessary to combat-load the 
5th Marines before the 1st and 11th 
Marines arrived. These last two, organi- 

x This account of preparations is based on a manu- 
script history of U.S. Army Forces in the South 
Pacific prepared by the author d uring the war and 
filed in OCMH. See also, Miller, Guadalcanal^ The 
First Offensive, ch. II; Morison, Coral Sea, Midway 
and Submarine Actions, ch. XIII; John Zimmerman, 
The Guadalcanal Campaign (Washington; Histori- 
cal Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 
1949). The 1st Marine Division at the time consisted 
only of two infantry regiments, the 7th having been 
detached for service with the 1st Provisional Marine 
Brigade in Samoa. 



zation-loaded before they had left the 
United States, would have to be com- 
pletely reloaded for combat when they 
reached Wellington. The first task, com- 
bat loading the 5 th Marines, was accom- 
plished without difficulty, but the second 
proved a nightmare. Plans for handling 
the cargo of the eight vessels carrying the 
second echelon of the division could not 
be made in advance for there were no 
manifests. It was necessary, therefore, 
to unload, sort the cargo, requisition the 
rations and other supplies needed, and 
combat-load the eight vessels in about 
ten days. The marines themselves, with 
the help of a few skilled operators and 
limited equipment, had to do the job 
working in 8-hour shifts around the 
clock. Tired and in poor physical con- 
dition after the month-long voyage, the 
marines had to work under dishearten- 
ing conditions and in a steady cold rain 
— this was the winter season in New 
Zealand — which disintegrated the paper 
cartons and spilled cans all over the 
docks. In spite of these difficulties the 
division was loaded with sixty days' sup- 
plies and ready to sail on 22 July. On 
that day the twelve transports with escort 
left Wellington to rendezvous with the 
remainder of the invasion force coming 
from San Diego, Pearl Harbor and 

Long before the 1st Marine Division 
had completed its preparations, it had 
become apparent that the task ahead 
would be more difficult than originally 
thought. At the time the Joint Chiefs 
had approved the directive for an offen- 
sive in the South and Southwest Pacific, 
the Japanese had not yet begun to con- 
solidate their positions in the southern 
Solomons and New Guinea. Some Japa- 
nese activity had been observed in the 

area and reported by the former planters 
and civil servants who had remained 
behind to serve in the Coastwatching 
Service of the Australian intelligence. 
But it was not until early July, when the 
enemy landed troops on Guadalcanal, 
just south of Tulagi, and began to build 
an airfield there at Lunga Point, that the 
meaning of this activity became clear. 
The news was passed on to Washington 
on 6 July, where the threat posed by the 
new airfield combined with the existence 
of the seaplane base at Tulagi was fully 
appreciated. Additional information on 
Japanese shipping in the vicinity and 
the progress of construction on Guadal- 
canal did nothing to lessen the fear. 
Time was of the essence and obviously 
Guadalcanal would be as important an 
objective of Task One as Tulagi. 2 

It was while this disquieting news was 
coming in that MacArthur and Ghorm- 
ley held their meeting in Melbourne 
on 8 July. The result was a joint mes- 
sage to Marshall and King representing, 
the two Pacific commanders declared, 
their own opinions "arrived at separately 
and confirmed by decision." 3 With par- 
ticular emphasis, they called attention 
to the "marked change in the enemy 
situation," their own shortage of planes, 
the scarcity of shipping to move men 
and material, and the absence of air- 
fields and port facilities. The Japanese, 
they pointed out, were building airfields 
and developing their bases at Kavieng, 
Rabaul, Lae, Salamaua, Buka, and Gua- 
dalcanal. Both MacArthur and Ghormley 

J Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, 6 Jul 42, CM-IN- 
2068. For an account of the Coastwatching Service, 
see Eric A. Feldt, The Coast Watchers (Melbourne: 
Oxford University Press, 1946). 

3 Rad, MacArthur and Ghormley to JCS, 1012, 8 
Jul 42, OPD Exec Files. 



doubted that the Allies with their piti- 
fully inadequate resources and lack of 
airfields would be able to gain and main- 
tain air supremacy in the objective area. 
"The successful accomplishment of the 
operation," they told the Joint Chiefs, 
"is open to gravest doubts." 

Ghormley, like MacArthur, disliked 
the idea of breaking up the operation 
against Rabaul into separate parts and 
joined him in opposing it before the 
Joint Chiefs. Once begun, the two men 
argued, the entire offensive should be 
carried forward to its conclusion in one 
continuous movement. Failure to do so 
would expose the assault forces to coun- 
terattack from Rabaul and constitute a 
danger of the greatest magnitude. Task 
One, therefore, should be postponed, the 
Pacific commanders told Marshall and 
King, until the means required to exe- 
cute all three tasks had been assembled. 
Admiral Nimitz, in commenting on the 
proposal, argued against postponement. 4 

The MacArthur-Ghormley message 
created a most unfavorable impression 
in Washington. Admiral King expressed 
the views of many when he pointed out 
that MacArthur, who only a short time 
before was proposing to strike out boldly 
and swiftly for Rabaul, "now, confronted 
with the concrete aspects of the prob- 
lem," claimed with Ghormley that even 
the much more limited operation against 
Tulagi could not be undertaken without 
considerably more air power and ship- 
ping. 5 To the naval planners, the fact 
that the Japanese were consolidating 

*Ltr, Spruance to Hoover, 17 Jul 59, OCMH. 
Spruance was chief of staff to Nimitz at the time. 

'Memos, King for Marshall, 10 Jul 42, sub: Mac- 
Arthur-Ghormley Dispatch, and Cooke to King, 9 
July 42, same sub, both in OPD 381 (PTO) sec. 2. 

their positions in the Solomons seemed 
to call for speed, not delay. Rather than 
wait until all three tasks could be pushed 
through in one continuous movement, 
they thought that Task One was now 
more urgent than ever and that the 
enemy must be ejected from the south- 
ern Solomons before he could move 
against the Allied line of communica- 
tion. MacArthur, it was admitted, did 
not have the means at hand for Tasks 
Two and Three, but these, they felt, 
would have to be provided later by the 
Army. Task One must be launched 
without delay; planning for the other 
two should be completed as soon as 

General Marshall accepted the Navy 
view without argument and agreed that 
MacArthur would need more aircraft 
and transportation before he could begin 
his own operations. In his reply to the 
Southwest Pacific commander, therefore, 
he held out the promise of additional 
support for Tasks Two and Three, but 
made it clear that even if this support 
was not forthcoming because of condi- 
tions elsewhere he was to push vigorously 
the preparations and detailed planning 
for these tasks. Task One, King and 
Marshall announced, was to proceed as 
planned. They did not, they told Mac- 
Arthur and Ghormley, "desire to coun- 
termand operations already under way," 
but, in recognition of the limited means 
in the Pacific, they asked the two com- 
manders to submit requests for the means 
"absolutely essential to the execution of 
Task One." 8 

"Rad, JCS to MacArthur and Ghormley, 2100, 10 
Jul 42, OPD 381 (PTO) sec a. The Joint Chiefs 
meeting of this date, their 24th, was the first one in 
which the coming offensive was discussed. 



The Pacific versus Europe 

At the same time that the Army and 
Navy chiefs in Washington were resist- 
ing the appeals from their Pacific com- 
manders for additional support and a 
more massive offensive, they found them- 
selves arguing, by a curious twist of 
circumstances, for a reversal of the 
Europe-first strategy developed before 
the war and confirmed at the Arcadia 
Conference in December 1941-January 
1942. The background of this startling 
proposal lies in the decision, reaffirmed 
in June, (a) to invade the European 
continent in the fall of 1942 in the 
event the Red Army suffered disastrous 
reverses (Sledgehammer) and (b) to 
mount a major invasion of the Conti- 
nent in 1943 (Roundup) . Bolero, the 
concentration of forces in England for 
the invasion, applied to both operations. 7 
Upon this project General Marshall and 
his staff had put most of their energies 
for months and when early in July the 
British, faced with threats of disaster in 
the Middle East and North Africa, pro- 
posed that plans for the possible invasion 
of the Continent in 1942 (Sledgeham- 
mer) be abandoned and North Africa 
be invaded instead, the Chief of Staff 
reacted with considerable vigor. He had 
opposed such an invasion earlier and 
still did on the ground that it was an 
indecisive operation that would scatter 
American forces, drain away Allied re- 

'Though the 194s operation was contingent on a 
major Soviet defeat, President Roosevelt had vir- 
tually promised Molotov at the end of May that the 
Allies would open a second front that year. The 
British were far from sanguine about such an opera- 
tion, and there was considerable doubt in the Ameri- 
can staff about the feasibility of ihe operation. 
Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 568-70, 577; 
Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941—41, pp. 

sources, and jeopardize both the main 
assault in Europe in 1943 (Roundup) 
and the American position in the Pacific. 
If the British refused to go through with 
Sledgehammer, therefore, the United 
States should, Marshall argued, turn its 
full attention to Japan. Tearing a page 
from MacArthur's book, he pointed out 
that such a move would have many 
advantages, that it would receive the 
strong support of the American people, 
and, after a second front in Europe, 
would be the most effective way to 
relieve pressure on Russia. 8 The Joint 
Chiefs, he concluded, should unite in 
recommending this course to the 

Admiral King was more than willing 
to join forces with his Army colleague. 
Though he accepted and supported the 
strategy which gave priority to the war 
in Europe, King had always placed 
greater emphasis than Marshall on the 
importance of holding and maintaining 
a strong position in the Pacific. More- 
over, his conception of a defensive strat- 
egy in the war against Japan included 
active measures and much larger forces 
than the Army was willing to put into 
that theater. Early in May, before Coral 
Sea and Midway and when the threat 
in the Pacific had loomed so large, 
Admiral King had argued unsuccessfully 
against the build-up in Britain. Though 
that crisis had passed, King, like Mac- 
Arthur, saw in the renewed Japanese 
activity a fresh threat which would 
require larger efforts in the Pacific. It 
was natural therefore that Admiral 

' Mins, JCS Mtg, 10 Jul 42; Rad, MacArthur to 
Marshall, No. 176, 8 May 42, cited in ch. IX above; 
Churchill, The Hinge of Fate, p. 434. For a more de- 
tailed account of these discussions, see Matloff and 
Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941—41, pp. 187-90, 



King should welcome the strange rever- 
sal of roles that made Marshall champion 
of the Pacific cause. Readily he accepted, 
with minor modifications, the memoran- 
dum Marshall had prepared urging on 
the President a change in the basic 
strategy of the war if the British per- 
sisted in their refusal to undertake 
Sledgehammer. 9 

This threat of a shift away from 
Europe and toward the Pacific, used 
later as a strategem in debate with the 
British, was apparently seriously intended 
at this time. The "Hitler- first" strategy 
and the build-up of forces in the British 
Isles for an early invasion of the Conti- 
nent, which General Marshall had con- 
sistently advocated and defended, was 
based on the recognized military prin- 
ciple of concentration of force. Rather 
than violate that principle and open a 
major and costly offensive that could 
produce no decisive results against Ger- 
many, Marshall was willing to turn tem- 
porarily to the lesser enemy and the 
secondary theater. It was not the course 
he preferred, but at least it would avoid 
the dispersion of American resources 
and manpower and would bring about 
the defeat of one of the Axis Powers. 
He hoped, he told the President frankly, 
that the British would give in rather 
than see the United States go its own 
way but he was ready, if they did not, 
"to turn immediately to the Pacific with 
strong forces and drive for a decision 
against Japan." 10 

To President Roosevelt at Hyde Park, 

"Memo, Marshall and King for Roosevelt, 10 Jul 42, 
no sub, OPD 381 (Gen) case 73. 

"Memo, Marshall for Roosevelt, 10 Jul 42, sub: 
British Proposal Relative to Bolero, OPD Exec Files. 
See also, Stimson and Bundy On Active Service, p. 

this unexpected recommendation from 
his chief military and naval advisers for 
a drastic revision in American strategy 
came as a complete surprise. Immedi- 
ately he asked for a detailed and com- 
prehensive statement of the plans they 
had made for such a shift, to be ready 
"this afternoon" — it was then Sunday, 
12 July. 11 This statement, he directed, 
should include estimates of the time 
required to transfer ships, planes, and 
men to the Pacific and the effect of the 
move on the war in every theater. The 
request was an impossible one, and 
perhaps the President knew that. No 
one had forseen so sudden and basic a 
reversal in strategy and there were no 
studies of the kind now required. 
Nevertheless, while their staffs worked 
feverishly to produce the information 
desired, the Joint Chiefs submitted a 
preliminary and hasty study to the Presi- 
dent. After outlining the adjustments 
that would have to be made and the 
effect of the proposed strategy on the 
military efforts of the British and 
Russians, the Joint Chiefs recommended 
that, after the capture of Rabaul, the 
United States should concentrate its 
forces in a drive northwest through Truk, 
Guam, and Saipan. As a substitute, or, 
simultaneously, if conditions were favor- 
able, they suggested the route through the 
Malay Barrier and Borneo to the Philip- 
pines. This program was admittedly an 
inadequate response to Roosevelt's re- 
quest for the Pacific alternative, but it 
was the best that could be done in the 
short time allotted. 12 

11 Tel Msg, President to Marshall and King, 
recorded in Memo, Col John R. Deane for King, 12 
Jul 42, OPD Exec Files. 

"Memo, JCS for President, 12 Jul 4a, sub: Pacific 
Opns, OPD 381 (Gen) case 73. 



The merits of the Joint Chief's pro- 
posal and of the staff studies initiated by 
the President's request were to prove 
shortly a matter of no consequence. By 
14 July the President had made up his 
mind. "I want you to know," he told 
Marshall then, "that I do not approve 
the Pacific proposal." 13 Instead Marshall 
and King were to go to London with 
Hopkins immediately — the 16th was sug- 
gested — to work out some arrangement 
with the British. A North African in- 
vasion, he gave Marshall to understand, 
was a definite possibility if the British 
could not be persuaded to adhere to 

The next morning, after Roosevelt's 
return to Washington, Marshall saw the 
President at the White House and was 
left in no doubt about his views. The 
proposal to turn to the Pacific, Mr. Roose- 
velt said, was "a red herring" whose 
purpose, he implied, was something other 
than that stated in the Marshall-King 
memorandum. So strongly did he feel 
on this subject that he even suggested 
that "the record should be altered so 
that it would not appear in later years 
that we had proposed what had 
amounted to the abandonment of the 
British." 1 * That night he told Hopkins, 
"If we cannot strike at Sledgehammer, 
then we must take the second best — and 
that is not the Pacific. There we are 
conducting a successful holding war." 15 

Thus, when Marshall and King left 
for London with Hopkins they did so 
with the clear understanding that the 

"Tel Msg, Roosevelt to Marshall, 14 Jul 42, WDCSA 
Files (Bolero). Churchill's attitude is stated in a 
letter of 12 July to Field Marshal Dill in Churchill, 
The Hinge of Fate, p. 438. 

"Memo, Marshall for King, 15 Jul 42, no sub, 
WDCSA 381 (War Plans). 

"Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 602. 

President would support their efforts to 
gain acceptance of Sledgehammer but 
would not tolerate any ultimatum to the 
British. "It is of the utmost importance," 
he told the three delegates, "that we 
appreciate that defeat of Japan does not 
defeat Germany and that American con- 
centration against Japan this year or in 
1943 increases the chance of complete 
German domination of Europe and 
Africa." 16 The defeat of Germany, on 
the other hand, would surely result, 
Roosevelt believed, in the defeat of the 
Japanese enemy, "probably without fir- 
ing a shot or losing a life." Again, the 
basic strategy of the war had been 

What course would the United States 
have followed in the Pacific had the 
President accepted the recommendation 
of his military advisers in July 1942? No 
definite answer is possible, of course, but 
in the studies initiated by the President's 
request for a comprehensive statement of 
the Pacific alternative can be found a 
clear statement of the strategy contem- 
plated. Obsolete before they were com- 
pleted on 15 July, these studies are, 
nevertheless, of interest in revealing the 
Army planners' views and the estimates 
on which these views were based. 17 

First, the planners considered possible 
alternatives to Bolero — North Africa, 
Norway, the Middle East, and others — 
and dismissed them all for various rea- 
sons. The Pacific, they decided, offered 
the greatest possibilities and in support 
of this view they attributed to the Japa- 
nese a strength that was so far from real- 

" Memo, Roosevelt for Hopkins, Marshall, and 
King, 16 Jul 43, sub: Instrs for London Conf, WDCSA 
381, printed in Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, 
pp. 603-05. 

"OPD, Statement of Present Basic Strategy, with 
Inch, 15 Jul 42, OPD Exec Files. 



ity as to suggest that they had little ap- 
preciation of the far-reaching significance 
of the Midway victory. The Japanese, 
they thought, were capable of extending 
their hold in the Aleutians, attacking 
eastern Siberia, and seizing British posi- 
tions in India. An attack against Aus- 
tralia and the line of communications 
they considered a real possibility. Even 
an all-out assault on Hawaii was not 
ruled out. And if the Japanese were 
successful in that, they would, the plan- 
ners believed, make a determined effort 
to drive the United States from the Pa- 
cific. "It is possible," the planners con- 
cluded, "that, if undeterred, the enemy 
may: consolidate and prepare defenses so 
effectively that he cannot be defeated by 
the forces which we will be able to 
operate against him." 

To avert this disaster, the Army plan- 
ners proposed a 5-phase plan to step up 
the war against Japan. The first was 
Task One, already in preparation. Phase 
2 included Tasks Two and Three which, 
with the forces formerly allocated to 
Bolero, could begin in November and 
be carried through as a continuous oper- 
ation under MacArthur. In April 1943, 
when naval forces would be available, the 
third and fourth phases would begin, the 
former consisting of the seizure of the 
Caroline and Marshall Islands, the latter 
of a drive through the Netherlands Indies. 
Phase 5 called for the reoccupation of the 
Philippines at an undetermined date. 

This 5-phase plan offered little that was 
new and was much like the one developed 
by the Navy staff in April. Though the 
planners overestimated Japanese strength 
they, like many others, totally underesti- 
mated the vigor of the Japanese reaction 
to the Solomons offensive. American 
weakness in the Pacific was fully appre- 

ciated in these Army studies, however, 
and implicit in them was the realization 
that the diversion of troops and planes 
from Europe would not greatly accele- 
rate operations in the Pacific where the 
role of the Navy was so decisive. Thus, 
the Army planners were unable to sched- 
ule operations in the Central Pacific 
before April 1943, contingent on the 
availability of naval forces. Finally, they 
had no plans for operations once the 
Philippines were reoccupied. Where to 
go after that and what measures to take 
for the defeat of Japan were problems 
which none of the planners, Army or 
Navy, had yet faced seriously. Later, 
these problems would become the focal 
point of the debate over Pacific strategy. 

MacArthur Prepares 

Completely unaware of events in 
Washington, the theater commanders con- 
tinued their preparations for the task 
ahead. Under the Joint Chiefs' directive 
of 2 July, MacArthur was required to 
supply naval reinforcements and land- 
based air support for the Solomons 
invasion, and to interdict enemy air and 
naval operations in his area. This he 
readily agreed to do and during the 
weeks that followed his Melbourne 
meeting with Ghormley, MacArthur's 
staff worked out the details for co-ordi- 
nating the efforts of two theaters with 
officers from the South Pacific. From 
his small navy, MacArthur turned over 
to Ghormley virtually his entire striking 
force, 4 heavy cruisers (3 of them Aus- 
tralian) , 1 light cruiser, and 9 destroyers. 
On 14 July these warships sailed from 
Brisbane under the flag of Rear Adm. 
V. A. C. Crutchley, RAN, to join the 
South Pacific forces for the coming cam- 

General MacArthur and General Kenney 

General Eichelberger and General Blamey 



paign. The submarines in the Southwest 
Pacific, though not reassigned, were also 
to be used in support of the coming 
offensive. Operating out of Brisbane, 
the underwater craft would have the 
task of interdicting enemy shipping off 
Rabaul. The role of MacArthur's Allied 
Air Forces was perhaps the most vital of 
supporting operations. Before the land- 
ings its planes would reconnoiter eastern 
New Guinea and the Bismarck Archi- 
pelago; thereafter they were to patrol 
the north and northwest approaches to 
the objective area, while making every 
effort to neutralize enemy aircraft in 
New Guinea and the Solomons. 18 

While plans were being made to pro- 
vide support for Task One, responsibility 
for which rested on Admiral Ghormley, 
General MacArthur made preparations 
for the tasks to follow. Airfields in north- 
ern Australia and New Guinea were 
rushed to completion and planes dis- 
patched as rapidly as the fields became 
available. These would serve in Task 
One and were needed as quickly as pos- 
sible. To direct the training and later 
the operations of the two U.S. divisions 
in his area, General MacArthur asked 
for and was given a corps headquarters 
in July. Maj. Gen. Robert C. Richard- 
son, Jr., who was in Australia on an in- 
spection trip for General Marshall, was 
the first candidate for the post, but be- 
cause of his strong feelings about serving 
under Australian command (Allied 
Land Forces was under General Blarney) 
the assignment finally went to Maj. Gen. 
Robert L. Eichelberger. Command of 
the Allied Air Forces, with which Mac- 

Arthur had expressed some dissatisfac- 
tion, underwent a change too, when 
General Kenney relieved Brett late in 
July. About the same time, Brig. Gen. 
Richard J. Marshall, MacArthur's dep- 
uty chief of staff and one of that small 
band which had come out of Corregidor 
with him, took over the supply head- 
quarters (designated on 20 July U.S. 
Army Services of Supply) from Barnes 
who returned home, like Brett, for reas- 
signment. That same day, General Mac- 
Arthur moved his headquarters further 
up the coast of Australia but still far 
from the scene of operations. Effective 1 
August the boundary between the South 
and Southwest Pacific was moved west to 
the line agreed upon, longitude 159 east. 
(Map 3)\ 

18 GHQ SWPA Opns Instr No. 14, 26 Jul 42, Hist 
Rec Index Cards, OCMH; The Campaigns of Mac- 
Arthur in the Pacific. SWPA S eries. I, ch. II; Milner, 
I Victory in Papua, pp. 47-^.8. 

I'he Joint Chiefs' directive of 2 July 
made necssary also another revision of 
MacArthur's Tulsa Plan, last revised on 
1 July. The objectives of the plan were 
the same as those of the directive, but 
the timing and the forces were different. 
For one thing, MacArthur's planners 
could now assume, somewhat optimisti- 
cally, that they would have the Marine 
division, the carriers, and the support of 
the South Pacific land-based aircraft for 
their own operations when Task One was 
completed. Also, they would assume that 
the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area would be 
in Allied hands before their own forces 
went into action. There was no need, 
however, to revise the scheme of opera- 
tions already developed. As before the 
campaign against Rabaul was envisaged 
as a two-pronged advance in five stages 
through the Solomons and along the 
northeast coast of New Guinea. The 
first three phases, which would take his 
troops as far as Lorengau in the Admir- 
alties and Buka in the northern Solo- 

MAP 5 

159° E 



August 1942 

o so 100 
i i i 1 1 




mons, would complete Task Two; the 
next two, which called for the seizure of 
Kavieng (New Ireland) by the force 
moving up the Solomons and a combined 
assault by both forces against Rabaul, 
would complete the tasks assigned by the 
Joint Chiefs. 19 

An important feature of MacArthur's 
Tulsa plan from the start was the estab- 
lishment of airfields at Milne Bay at the 
southeast tip of the Papuan Peninsula 
and at Buna. These would be required 
for the assault against Lae and Salamaua, 
and plans for the former were made 
even before the Joint Chiefs' directive 
of 2 July. Work at Milne Bay began 
early in July and continued without 
interruption from the Japanese who were 
apparently unaware of the project. 
When they did learn of it, they landed 
troops there late in August and made a 
determined effort to seize the base, but 
it was already too late. 20 

The effort to build an airdrome in the 
Buna area developed in a way that was 
entirely unforeseen and involved Gen- 
eral MacArthur's forces in a long and 
costly battle at a much earlier date than 
anticipated. Plans for construction of 
the airstrip were issued on 15 July after 
a reconnaissance of the area, and a spe- 
cial task force was organized for the 
project. The plan was a complicated 
one. From Port Moresby would come 
one group, mostly Australian infantry, 
traveling to Buna by foot over the 
Kokoda Trail, the one passable route 

"Tulsa II-A, Joint Basic Plan for . . . New Brit- 
ain—New Ireland-Admiralties Area, no date but 
probably prepared at the end of July, abstract in 

"The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific, 
SWPA Series II, pp . 50—51, 65-68; Milner, Victory in 
Papua, [pp. 77— 88. I 

across the Owen Stanley Range. There 
it would meet a smaller group coming 
in by boat and forming a beachhead to 
protect the main convoy carrying the 
construction and garrison units. 21 

The plan had hardly been completed 
and orders issued when reconnaissance 
revealed that the Japanese had assembled 
a large convoy and appeared to be mov- 
ing on Buna. This supposition was 
entirely correct. Frustrated at Coral Sea 
and Midway and forced to cancel opera- 
tions against Samoa, New Caledonia, and 
the Fijis, the Japanese had nevertheless 
refused to give up their plans to take 
Port Moresby. Since a seaborne invasion 
was no longer possible, Imperial General 
Headquarters on 11 June had ordered 
the ijth Army commander, General Hya- 
kutake, to make plans for an overland 
assault from the east coast of the Papuan 
Peninsula, first determining by recon- 
naissance whether such an operation was 
feasible. This task was assigned to the 
South Seas Detachment, and the starting 
point selected was Buna. But when Gen- 
eral Horii had almost completed his 
plans, Imperial General Headquarters 
decided that a reconnaissance was not 
necessary; Port Moresby was to be cap- 
tured by overland assault. Thus, on 18 
July the South Seas Detachment was di- 
rected to "speedily land at Buna, push 
forward on the Buna-Kokoda road, and 
capture Port Moresby and adjacent 
airfields." 22 

The final Japanese plan for the Port 
Moresby operation called for a landing 

a GHQ SWPA, InstT to Comdrs AAF, ALF, ANF, 
Occupation and Construction at Buna Bay, 15 Jul 42, 
Hist Rec Index Cards, OCMH. 

"Japanese Opns in SWPA, p. 132. This account 
of the Japanese landing at Buna is based on this 
work, pages 132-36, and the sources cited therein. 



at Buna on 21 July by a joint force of 
3,300 men. Support would be provided 
by planes from Rabaul and a naval force 
of two light cruisers and three destroyers. 
On 20 July the convoy left Rabaul and, 
despite air attacks from B-17's which 
damaged one of the three transports, 
reached its destination on schedule, at 
igoo of the 2 1st. There was no resistance 
and by the morning of the 2 2d the vil- 
lage of Buna was in Japanese hands. The 
construction troops and the garrison 
immediately began to convert Buna into 
an advance base, under steady bombard- 
ment from the planes of the Allied Air 
Forces. At the same time, about 1,000 
men, the so-called Yokoyama Force, 
moved out toward Kokoda, which they 
occupied on 29 July after defeating an 
Australian contingent of about equal 
strength. To General Hyakutake at 
Rabaul they sent back word that the 
overland assault against Port Moresby 
was a feasible operation and that firm 
plans could now be made. But they had 
failed to reckon with the difficulties still 
to be overcome in the long hard pull 
across the Owen Stanley Range. 

Beaten to the punch at Buna and faced 
with a new threat to Port Moresby, Gen- 
eral MacArthur put aside thoughts of 
Task Two to concentrate on the job of 
driving the enemy back along the Kokoda 
Trail and out of his newly won position 
along the coast. Until this was accom- 
plished, he would be unable to begin the 
assault against Lae and Salamaua and 
inaugurate Task Two of the Joint Chiefs' 

There was concern in Washington also 
over this fresh Japanese advance. With 
the invasion already on its way to the 
Solomons, the Navy was especially anx- 
ious that the Japanese in New Guinea 

be contained and that the Allies retain 
control of the vital sea lanes in the area. 
General MacArthur, the naval planners 
felt, had not displayed any great enthu- 
siasm for the Joint Chiefs' directive and, 
in the absence of any information on his 
activities and plans, they were fearful 
that he might not appreciate fully the 
importance of supporting the Solomons 
offensive. These anxieties Admiral King 
passed on to Marshall with the sugges- 
tion that MacArthur be asked what plans 
he had to hold the Japanese advance in 
New Guinea. The Chief of Staff, though 
he felt that King's assumption that Mac- 
Arthur had not taken all measures to 
counter the Japanese threat was scarcely 
justified, accepted the suggestion and 
that same day, 31 July, queried 
MacArthur on ttie subject. 23 

MacArthur's response was long and 
detailed. In it he explained what he had 
done and was doing to stop the Japanese 
and outlined his plans for the develop- 
ment of bases in New Guinea. Unfor- 
tunately, he explained, he did not have 
enough transports to move the needed 
troops forward from Australia as quickly 
as he would wish — the 7 th Australian 
Division and three brigades were under 
orders for New Guinea — but if the ships 
could be furnished he would speedily 
regain Buna. The remainder of the mes- 
sage was devoted to an explanation of 
the Tulsa plan. Task One, he believed, 
would be completed by the time he 
reached Buna — it was, but at a much 
later date than anyone else had esti- 
mated — and he would then start Task 

"Memos, King for Marshall, 31 Jul 42, sub: Japa- 
nese Opns in New Guinea; Marshall for King, 1 Aug 
42, same sub; Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 384, 
31 Jul 42, all in OPD 381 (SWPA) case 92. 



Two, "if the Marines with their amphib- 
ious equipment can be used." 24 Also 
needed, he made clear, would be the 
carriers and the land-based bombers of 
the South Pacific. With them he was 
confident he could complete Tasks Two 
and Three rapidly. 

Final Preparations 

The brief crisis brought on by the 
British proposal to substitute a North 
African invasion for Sledgehammer, 
coming as it did in the midst of prepara- 
tions for the Solomons offensive, had 
momentarily held out the possibility of 
a greatly enlarged effort in the Pacific 
and an end to the Army's reluctance to 
commit its forces there. The President's 
decision abruptly restored the status quo 
so far as the claims of the Pacific theater 
in relation to the requirements of other 
theaters were concerned, but left unre- 
solved the problem of reinforcements 
for the offensive ahead. This problem, 
first raised by MacArthur and Ghormley 
on 8 July and suspended briefly while 
the Pacific alternative was under discus- 
sion, was reopened by Admiral King on 
14 July when he sent to General 
Marshall a request from Nimitz for three 
antiaircraft regiments to be used in the 
Solomons. Next day, in the conviction 
that the situation was too serious to per- 
mit delay and that the powerful Japa- 
nese forces assembling at Rabaul spelled 
trouble for the South Pacific commander, 
King urged General Marshall to recon- 
sider the Army's decision. In addition 
to the antiaircraft regiments he wanted 
Marshall to order MacArthur to make 
additional garrison troops available if 

"Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, Q-147, a Aug 42, 
OPD 381 (SWPA) case 92. 

needed to reinforce those from the South 
Pacific. 25 

The request for garrison forces from 
MacArthur's area was turned down flatly, 
that for antiaircraft units was met by the 
offer of a regiment to replace those at 
Bora Bora and Tongatabu, which would 
be moved forward to the Solomons. 
Though King had accepted this offer 
conditionally before his departure for 
London with Marshall, it brought strong 
objections from Ghormley and Nimitz, 
who wanted a steady flow of troops and 
planes to replace those lost when the 
battle began. Unless this was done, 
Nimitz wrote, "not only will we be un- 
able to proceed with Tasks Two and 
Three of this campaign, but we may be 
unable even to hold what we have 
taken." 26 The Army was adamant in its 
opposition and maintained steadfastly 
that it could not send reinforcements to 
the South Pacific Area without cutting 
deeply into commitments elsewhere. 27 

Actually, nothing done at this time 
could have had any immediate effect on 
Admiral Ghormley's plan or on the cam- 
paign ahead; already the forces for the 
invasion were assembling in the South 
Pacific. Ever since his return from Mel- 
bourne on 9 July, Ghormley and his staff 
had been perfecting their plans and com- 
pleting their preparations. On the 10th 
he had received his orders from Nimitz 
together with a list of the ground, air, 
and naval forces he would have for the 

"Memos, King for Marshall, 15 Jul 42, sub: Gar- 
rison Forces for Solomons; 14 Jul 42, sub: AAA Units 
in South Pacific, both in WDCSA Files (SWPA). 

"Memo, Vice Adm Russell Willson for Lt Gen 
Joseph T. McNarney, (both acting for their chiefs 
in London), 22 Jul 42, sub: Reinforcements for South 
Pacific, WDCSA File (SWPA). 

"For the papers dealing with this decision, see 
WDCSA Files (SWPA) and OPD 3SO.2 (PTO) cases 
21 and 30. 



operation. These included, in addition 
to the ist Marine Division, three carrier 
task groups built around the Saratoga, 
Enterprise, and Wasp (the first two were 
at Pearl, the Wasp at San Diego) , the 
additional B-17's from the Hawaiian 
Mobile Air Force, the land-based aircraft 
of the South Pacific Area (altogether 
291 aircraft of various types) , and a 
large number of warships, transports, 
and cargo vessels. 28 

On receipt of Nimitz' order, prepara- 
tions for the coming offensive were inten- 
sified. The development of airfields in 
the New Hebrides, where the B-17's 
would base, was given highest priority. 
By the end of the month two strips, each 
5,000 feet long and 150 feet wide, were 
almost ready. The one at Efate had been 
built in three weeks; the one at Espiritu 
Santo in twelve days. Both were within 
striking distance of the objective. 

Meanwhile the planning staff had com- 
pleted its work and on 16 July Admiral 
Ghormley issued the basic plan for the 
seizure of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Two 
major task forces were organized, the 
Expeditionary Force under Admiral 
Fletcher and the Air Force under Ad- 
miral McCain, both responsible directly 
to Ghormley. Fletcher's force included 
virtually all the ships and troops assigned 
to the operation, with responsibility for 
the amphibious forces and the landing 
itself going to Admiral Turner who was 
under Fletcher. The three carrier groups 
were also a part of Fletcher's force but 
were commanded directly by Rear Adm. 
Leigh Noyes. Admiral McCain's Air 
Force included all land-based Army, 

28 This account of plans and preparations is based 
on the author's manuscript history of the South 
Pacific cited above, as well as Miller, Guadalcanal: 
The First Offensive, ch. II. 

Navy, Marine, and New Zealand planes 
in the area. Organized into seven groups 
and scattered throughout the South 
Pacific, this force had the double task of 
reconnaissance and bombardment of the 
objective. Neither General Harmon nor 
any other Army officer was given any re- 
sponsibility for the operation; the top 
command was entirely naval. 

Admiral Ghormley divided the opera- 
tion into three phases. In the first, start- 
ing about 27 July, the Expeditionary 
Force was to rendezvous in the Fiji 
Islands for rehearsal. Phase Two called 
for the seizure of Tulagi and Guadal- 
canal on 7 August, Ghormley having 
secured a week's delay in the start of the 
campaign. The final phase, later can- 
celed, provided for the seizure of Ndeni 
in the Santa Cruz group as an air and 
seaplane base. Five submarines of the 
Pacific Fleet were to provide support 
from 22 July through 20 August by 
patrolling the waters around Truk, and 
Allied aircraft were to cover the 
approaches and support the operations 
once they began. 

In the three weeks remaining after 
receipt of Ghormley's plan, each of the 
task force commanders assembled his 
force and made his own plans for D-day. 
Admiral Noyes's carriers came by sepa- 
rate ways. The Wasp had left San 
Diego on 1 July with the transports 
carrying the 2d Marines. The Saratoga 
group sailed from Pearl a week later, 
followed shortly after by the Enterprise. 
That same day, the last of the Marine 
units, the 3d Defense Battalion, left 
Hawaii aboard two transports. On the 
21st Admiral Fletcher ordered the Expe- 
ditionary Force to assemble southeast of 
the Fijis by 1400 of the 26th for re- 
hearsal. The 1st Raider Battalion, which 



A-20 skip-bombing an enemy freighter. 

had transferred earlier from Samoa to 
New Caledonia, was picked up by four 
destroyer-transports and got to the ren- 
dezvous in time, but the 3d Defense 
Battalion in Hawaii had to join the rest 
of the force on its way to the objective. 

From the 28th through the 31st, the 
invasion rehearsed off Koro Island in the 
Fijis. It was the first time that the naval, 
air, and ground commanders had met to 
arrange the details of the operation, but 
the rehearsals were unrealistic and Gen- 
eral Vandegrift thought them a loss of 
valuable time. When they were over, 
the entire force — eighty-two vessels — 
sailed for the Solomons, the carriers 
heading for a point southwest of Gua- 

dalcanal. Turner's Amphibious Force, in 
three great concentric circles with the 
destroyers on the outside, made for Sea- 
lark Channel between Tulagi and 

As this assembly of ships made its way 
slowly toward the still-unsuspecting Jap- 
anese, the land-based aircraft of Admiral 
McCain's force went into action. From 
the hardly completed airstrips at Efate 
and Espiritu Santo, the Army B-17's of 
the 1 1 th Bombardment Group, only re- 
cently arrived from Hawaii, began their 
daily bombardment of the objective area. 
Off to the west and north, over New 
Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, 
MacArthur's Allied Air Forces kept close 



B- 1 7 heading home from a bomb run over the Solomons. 

watch over the Japanese. Any unex- 
pected Japanese move now might well 
spell the difference between success and 

To assemble, mount, and support the 
invasion force had taken all the re- 
sources of the theater commanders and 
left them with precious little to meet an 
emergency. MacArthur's requests for 
future operations could be deferred, but 
the demands from Nimitz and Ghormley 
Jor the task at hand were becoming even 
.nore insistent. And these could not so 
easily be put aside. At the end of July, 
Admiral Nimitz and General Emmons, 
.vho had repeatedly asked for more air- 
:raft, joined forces to request two heavy 

bombardment groups to replace the 
B-i7's of the i ith Bombardment Group, 
which left for the South Pacific on 
the 26th of the month. They were badly 
needed, Nimitz reported, to follow up 
the invasion of Guadalcanal and, in the 
absence of most of the Pacific Fleet from 
Hawaiian waters, to support the defense 
of that area 29 

General Harmon, when he arrived in 
the South Pacific on 26 July, also found 
many deficiencies in his command and 

31 Rad, Emmons to Marshall, 26 Jul 42, CM-IN- 
9215 and associated papers in OPD 320.2 (Hawaii). 
Nimitz' message is attached to Memo, King for Mar- 
shall, 1 Aug 42, sub: Reinforcement of South Pacific, 
OPD 320.2 (PTO) case 37. 



added his voice to the growing chorus 
of complaint. His first requests for serv- 
ice and supporting units were turned 
down in Washington with the reminder 
that the forces in the South Pacific were 
to be held to the "minimum consistent" 
with the defensive role of the theater. 
Meanwhile his requests for air service 
units and transports were forwarded to 
the Army Air Forces. Arnold was will- 
ing to comply with these requests but, 
unfortunately, would not be able to 
provide the units until the fall. 30 

The position taken by the Army on 
reinforcements for the Pacific was chal- 
lenged strongly by Admiral King on his 
return from London at the end of July. 
The occasion was furnished by the agree- 
ment made with the British and by 
Marshall's own statement that the sub- 
stitution of the North African operation 
(Torch) for the invasion of the Con- 
tinent would release planes and shipping 
for use in the Pacific. Citing Admiral 
Nimitz' need for heavy bombers, Ad- 
miral King asked Marshall to review the 
Army's decision against air reinforce- 
ments "in the light of recent decisions 
reached in London." 31 The Army plan- 
ners were all for turning down this fresh 
demand with the statement that there 
were no air units available and that it 
was impossible to say when any would 
be. But General Marshall held off. It 
was now 5 August, two days before the 
invasion and he decided rather than turn 

^Rad, Harmon to Marshall, 30 Jul 42, CM-IN- 
10727. Other relevant papers are filed in OPD 320.2 
(PTO) case 5. 

"Memo, King for Marshall, 1 Aug 42, sub: Rein- 
forcements for the South Pacific, OPD 320.2 (PTO) 
case 37. The agreement referred to was CCS 94, par. 
e, 24 Jul 42. 

down the request, to withhold his answer. 32 
But Admiral King had no intention 
of letting the matter rest there. Already 
he was preparing a list of needed rein- 
forcements for the Pacific that would 
make earlier requests appear modest by 
comparison. This latest proposal was 
based on a report by General Harmon 
after his first inspection of the Army 
bases in the South Pacific and a study of 
the plans for the forthcoming offensive. 
The minimum Army ground reinforce- 
ments needed in the area to comply with 
the Joint Chiefs' directive, Harmon had 
told Admiral Ghormley, were 2 divisions 
plus 2 infantry regiments, 4 regiments of 
coast artillery (3 antiaircraft and 1 har- 
bor defense) , and 2 battalions each of 
coast artillery and 105-mm howitzers. 
Air reinforcements, he estimated, should 
consist of 6 fighter squadrons (3 with the 
new P-38's) , 2 squadrons of heavy, 1 of 
medium, and 3 of dive bombers. These 
Harmon knew perfectly well were not 
available then or likely to be soon, and 
he limited his request for immediate 
shipment to 3 squadrons of P-38's and 
replacements for heavy bombers lost in 
action and attrition. The remainder, he 
added, should be sent as soon as possible. 33 
Admiral Ghormley lost no time in 
forwarding Harmon's estimate, in which 
he heartily concurred, to his chief in 
Washington. Taken with MacArthur's 
most recent statement of his plans, this 
estimate seemed to King to represent the 
minimum requirements for the comple- 
tion of Task One and the initiation of 
Task Two. He did not expect that so 

32 Informal Memo, Marshall for Handy, undated, 
attached to Memo, Handy for Marshall, 5 Aug 42. 
sub: Reinforcement for South Pacific, OPD 320.V 
(PTO) case 37. 

^Ltr, Harmon to Ghormley, 4 Aug 42, OCMH; 
Rad, Harmon to Marshall, 5 Aug 42, CM-IN-1252 



large an order could be filled immedi- 
ately — shipping was too scarce for that — 
but 'it would appear prudent," he told 
Marshall, "to commence assembly and 
planning for first, the air reinforcements 
and second, ground reinforcements in 
strengths required to execute plans for 
the immediate future." 34 

This time the Army planners could 
not deny the necessity for reinforcements. 
The marines had landed on Guadalcanal 
and Tulagi on the 7th, the day before 
King had penned his note, but already 
the Japanese were gathering forces for a 
determined counterattack. Boldly and 
quickly they moved down to the threat- 
ened area and on the night of 8-9 Au- 
gust, off Savo Island, dealt the invading 
fleet a mortal blow. In one of the brief- 

"Memo, King for Marshall, 8 Aug 42, sub: Mini- 
mum Army Reinforcements, OPD 320.2 (PTO) case 

est and most disastrous naval engage- 
ments of the war, the Allies lost a total 
of four heavy cruisers, one of them Aus- 
tralian, and suffered other damage which 
forced them to retire, leaving the 
marines stranded on the beaches without 
air or naval support and with only mea- 
ger supplies. All of the dire predictions 
from Admiral King and the commanders 
in the field had come true; all their esti- 
mates of what would be needed for the 
invasion, made, it should be noted, after 
the operation had been decided upon, 
would soon prove to be painfully accu- 
rate. The Japanese were evidently de- 
termined to hold on to what they had, 
and at Rabaul were the reinforcements 
they needed. Allied reinforcements were 
still a long way off, and before they 
could reach the battlefield, there would 
be other crises both in the Solomons and 
New Guinea. 


Crisis in the Pacific, 
August — November 1942 

When a general makes no mistakes in war, it is because he has not been 
at it long. 


The Allied disaster off Savo Island on 
the night of 8-9 August created so seri- 
ous a situation that for almost four 
months the fate of the Allied offensive 
hung in the balance. The Japanese, 
though they did not at first grasp the full 
meaning of the Marine landings, were 
determined to maintain their hold on 
the Solomons and New Guinea. Skill- 
fully utilizing every means at their dis- 
posal and the advantages of interior lines 
of communication, they sought time and 
again during these months to oust the 
invaders from Guadalcanal. It was not 
until mid-November, after a series of 
fierce aerial and naval battles which 
gave the Allies control of the air and 
sea, that the issue was decided. But the 
Japanese fought on for two more months 
in the vain hope that they might yet 
snatch victory from defeat. In the end 
they lost, but the six months' campaign 
gave them time to strengthen their posi- 
tions further up the Solomons ladder, 
in the Bismarck Archipelago, and along 
the northeast coast of New Guinea. 
Never again would the Allies underesti- 
mate the Japanese will to resist or the 
capacity and skill of the Japanese soldier. 

Few men in Washington had antici- 
pated so vigorous a reaction from the 
Japanese. Though every senior com- 
mander in the Pacific, with the strong 
support of Admiral King, had warned 
of trouble ahead if more planes, ships, 
and men were not quickly dispatched, 
the Army and air planners had stoutly 
resisted their demands and maintained 
that no more could be spared for what 
was, after all, a secondary and defensive 
theater of operations. But so strong was 
the desire to exploit the advantages of 
Midway and check the Japanese advance 
toward the Allied line of communica- 
tions that the commanders in the field 
acquiesced in the decision to attack. 
Once the offensive was begun, it was no 
longer possible to deny the resources 
needed for victory. Against the argu- 
ments for European (and North African) 
priorities for a future offensive were 
now posed the immediate and compel- 
ling demands of the Pacific. The conse- 
quences of failure were too serious to 
be accepted and again, despite the oft- 
affirmed "Germany first" strategy, the 
proponents of stronger measures and 
larger forces for the Pacific won another 



round in the never-ending contest for 
the resources of war. 

Emergency Measures 

Hardly had the 17,000 men of the 
1st Marine Division (reinforced) taken 
Tulagi and the neighboring small islands 
and seized the partially completed airstrip 
at Lunga Point (promptly named Hen- 
derson Field) on Guadalcanal, than they 
found themselves isolated — without air 
or naval protection and with less than 
half of the supplies they had brought 
with them. The aircraft carriers had 
gone first. Short of fuel and faced with 
the prospect of hostile air attack, Admiral 
Fletcher, on the evening of the 8th, had 
requested and been given permission by 
Ghormley to withdraw his carriers to 
safety the next morning. Admiral 
Turner, perforce, decided that he would 
have to pull out his amphibious force 
of warships, transports, and cargo vessels 
also, and so informed General Vande- 
grift. This decision had hardly been 
made when the disastrous Battle of Savo 
Island provided additional impetus for 
a hasty withdrawal. By evening of the 
gth the amphibious force was steaming 
southward, carrying with it the heavy 
construction equipment needed to com- 
plete the airfield at Lunga Point, the 
5-inch guns of the 3d Defense Battalion, 
the barbed wire so sorely needed for 
defense, and large quantities of ammuni- 
tion and food. Virtually a besieged gar- 
rison, the marines were in a desperate 
plight. 1 The offensive opened so hope- 

1 Miller, \Guadalcanal: The First Offensi ve, p. 81 . 
Unless otherwise noted the material in this chapter 
dealing with ground operations on Guadalcanal is 
based on this volume; that dealing with naval and 
air operations on Samuel Eliot Morison, The 

fully only a few days earlier already 
seemed in jeopardy. 

In Washington there was consternation 
at the unexpected withdrawal of the fleet 
and the disastrous consequences of the 
Battle of Savo Island. From Admiral 
Nimitz came an urgent request, strongly 
supported by King, for more planes, and 
from General Harmon came a similar 
request for reinforcements together with 
a pessimistic report on the situation on 
Guadalcanal. "We have seized a stra- 
tegic position from which future opera- 
tions against the Bismarcks can be 
strongly supported," he wrote. "Can the 
Marines hold it?" He was doubtful that 
they could. The Japanese, he thought, 
could assemble their forces quickly and 
recapture the island before the Allies 
could reinforce. Only "the resourceful- 
ness and determination of our own 
forces," he told Marshall, would be able 
to "foil this attempt." 2 

The first problem, everyone recog- 
nized, was to provide the isolated 
marines with air support. There was 
no time to collect the planes in the 
United States and ship them out. They 
would have to come from resources 
already in the theater. But from where? 
Admiral Nimitz had the answer: divert 
to the South Pacific the heavy and medi- 
um bombers allocated to MacArthur 
and already en route. Marshall accepted 
this proposal immediately and author- 

Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942— February 
194}, vol. V, "History of United States Naval Opera- 
tions in World War II" (Boston: Little, Brown and 
Company, 1950); Craven and Cate, AAF IV, ch. II, 
and the Marine Corps account, Zimmerman, The 
Guadalcanal Campaign. 

s Ltr, Harmon to Marshall, 11 Aug 42, copy in 
OCMH; Ltr, King to Marshall, g Aug 42; OPD Memo 
for Record, 10 Aug 42, sub: Aerial Reinforcement of 
South Pacific. Last two in OPD 452.1 (PTO), case 6. 



ized Harmon to retain these planes tem- 
porarily if he felt they could be used 
more effectively in his area than in the 
Southwest Pacific. At the same time, 
the Chief of Staff urged MacArthur to 
intensify his own efforts to neutralize 
the enemy's airfields and to make plans 
to send a pursuit squadron to Guadal- 
canal. Marshall was interested, too, in 
the extent of co-ordination between the 
South and Southwest Pacific Areas and 
asked MacArthur for a report on that 
matter as well as the feasibility of the 
plan to rush fighters to Henderson 
Field. 3 

MacArthur' s reply was both disap- 
pointing and reassuring. The plan to 
send fighters to Guadalcanal would be 
a hazardous undertaking and the chances 
of success slim. But if Marshall thought 
the measure necessary he would be will- 
ing to risk it. His report on relations 
with Ghormley was much more encour- 
aging. Co-ordination between the two 
theaters, he told the Chief of Staff, was 
excellent. He had made arrangements 
with Ghormley, he reported, to provide 
air support on request, but thus far had 
received no requests. This was not the 
understanding in Washington, but 
Ghormley and Harmon, when queried, 
confirmed MacArthur's assertions of 
harmonious relations. 4 

Reassuring as such reports were, they 
did not lessen the seriousness of the situ- 
ation in the Solomons or diminish the 
need for planes and supplies. General 
Harmon's estimates of the force needed 

s Rads, Marshall to Harmon, g and 10 Aug 42, 
CM-OUT-2792 and 3043; Rad, Marshall to Mac- 
Arthur, 10 Aug 42, CM-OUT-3042. 

1 Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, 12 and 13 Aug 42, 
Nos. C-253 an< i 34 1 ! Rad, Harmon to Marshall, 12 
Aug 42, No. 768. All in OPD Exec Files. 

for victory, made on the eve of the inva- 
sion, were now strengthened, and he 
used the occasion to impress them once 
more on his superiors in Washington. 
Admiral King, too, pressed hard for rein- 
forcements, reminding Marshall on the 
13th that his earlier requests were still 
unanswered and asking for immediate 
action to meet the demands from Hawaii 
and the South Pacific. 5 

The real question at issue between 
Marshall and King was the disposition 
of fifteen of the air groups (including 
three of heavy bombers) originally allo- 
cated to Bolero. At the London meet- 
ing with the British Chiefs of Staff in 
July, Marshall had insisted that, since 
Sledgehammer had been canceled in 
favor of Torch, these air groups plus 
the shipping for one division be set aside 
"for the purpose of furthering offensive 
operations in the Pacific." 6 King 
accepted this statement at face value and 
used it as a basis for his demands on 
the Army. General Marshall, however, 
apparently never intended that this pro- 
vision should be interpreted literally. 
"I regarded the list of withdrawals for 
the Pacific," he told Eisenhower soon 
after his return from London, "as one 
which gave us liberty of action though 
not necessarily to be carried out in full, 
and no dates were mentioned." 7 One of 
the heavy bomber groups, he did admit, 
would probably have to be sent to the 

5 Ltr, Harmon to Marshall, 11 Aug 42, copy in 
OCMH; Memo, King for Marshall, 13 Aug 42, sub: 
Reinforcements for South Pacific and Hawaii, OPD 
320.2 (PTO), case 37. 

6 CCS Memo, 24 Jul 42, sub: Opns in 1942-43, 
CCS 94, ABC 381 (7-25-41), sec. 1. 

*Ltr, Marshall to Eisenhower, 20 Jul 42, cited in 
Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning, 1941-42, pp, 
301-02; Mins, JPS Mtg, 16 Sep 42. 



Pacific but the disposition of the others 
would depend on the situation. Thus, 
when Admiral King asked for more 
planes on the 13th, Marshall readily 
agreed to release one heavy bomber 
group, but refused to accede to King's 
earlier requests. And he stipulated, 
moreover, that the bombers — the 90th 
Bombardment Group (H) was selected 
— were to go to Hawaii, not to the South 
Pacific. For the South Pacific, Marshall 
told King, the Army was readying 44 
fighters and had already authorized Gen- 
eral Harmon to retain for his use any of 
the 29 B-17's, 52 B-25's, and 9 B-26's 
en route to Australia. 8 

To the commanders in the Pacific, 
these promised reinforcements — the goth 
Bombardment Group was not scheduled 
to arrive until mid-September — could 
hardly be considered adequate. The 
position of the marines on Guadalcanal 
was precarious, with the Japanese bom- 
barding the island almost at will, and in 
New Guinea the Australians along the 
Kokoda Trail were still retreating before 
the advancing enemy. Instead of chang- 
ing their plans when the marines landed 
on Guadalcanal, the Japanese had inten- 
sified their campaign in New Guinea, 
bringing in more construction equip- 
ment, supplies, and infantry reinforce- 
ments. These moves were based on the 
view held in Tokyo, largely by the Army, 
that the Allied action in the Solomons 
was only a reconnaissance in force, a 
view that was confirmed by the failure 
of the Allies to reinforce the marines 

"Memo, Handy for Marshall, 15 Aug 42, sub: Rein- 
forcements for South Pacific and Hawaii; Memo, 
Marshall for King, 20 Aug 42, sub: Reinforcements